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EPA, California Notify Volkswagen of Additional Clean Air Act Violations

Release Date: 11/02/2015
Contact Information: For News Media Only: Laura Allen allen.laura@epa.gov; Julia P. Valentine valentine.julia@epa.gov

WASHINGTON – Today, EPA is issuing a second notice of violation (NOV) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. This NOV is also being issued to Porsche AG and Porsche Cars North America. These five companies are collectively referred to as Volkswagen (VW). The NOV alleges that VW developed and installed a defeat device in certain VW, Audi and Porsche light duty diesel vehicles equipped with 3.0 liter engines for model years (MY) 2014 through 2016 that increases emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) up to nine times EPA’s standard. The vehicles covered by today’s NOV are the diesel versions of: the 2014 VW Touareg, the 2015 Porsche Cayenne, and the 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L, and Q5.

EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) have both initiated investigations based on Volkswagen’s alleged actions. The NOV covers approximately 10,000 diesel passenger cars already sold in the United States since MY 2014. In addition, the NOV covers an unknown volume of 2016 vehicles.

These alleged violations are in addition to the NOV issued on September 18
th and the ongoing investigation by EPA alleging a defeat device on certain 2.0 liter engines for MY 2009-2015 vehicles.

“VW has once again failed its obligation to comply with the law that protects clean air for all Americans,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for the Office for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “All companies should be playing by the same rules. EPA, with our state, and federal partners, will continue to investigate these serious matters, to secure the benefits of the Clean Air Act, ensure a level playing field for responsible businesses, and to ensure consumers get the environmental performance they expect.”

"On September 25, the California Air Resources Board sent letters to all manufacturers letting them know we would be screening vehicles for potential defeat devices,” said Richard Corey, Executive Officer of the California Air Resources Board. “Since then ARB, EPA and Environment Canada have continued test programs on additional diesel-powered passenger cars and SUVs. These tests have raised serious concerns about the presence of defeat devices on additional VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles. Today we are requiring VW Group to address these issues. This is a very serious public health matter. ARB and EPA will continue to conduct a rigorous investigation that includes testing more vehicles until all of the facts are out in the open."

Following the September 18th NOV issued for 2.0 liter engines, on September 25th EPA initiated testing of all 2015 and 2016 light duty diesel models available in the U.S using updated testing procedures specifically designed to detect potential defeat devices. That testing led directly to the alleged violations covered under today’s NOV. The NOV is based on vehicle emission testing performed by the EPA’s National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory, CARB’s Haagen-Smit Laboratory, and Environment Canada’s River Road Laboratory.

Affected diesel models include:

-- 2014 VW Touareg
-- 2015 Porsche Cayenne
-- 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L, and Q5

November 2 Notice of Violation Details:

As alleged in the NOV, VW manufactured and installed software in the electronic control module of these vehicles that senses when the vehicle is being tested for compliance with EPA emissions standards. When the vehicle senses that it is undergoing a federal emissions test procedure, it operates in a low NOx “temperature conditioning” mode. Under that mode, the vehicle meets emission standards. At exactly one second after the completion of the initial phases of the standard test procedure, the vehicle immediately changes a number of operating parameters that increase NOx emissions and indicates in the software that it is transitioning to “normal mode,” where emissions of NOx increase up to nine times the EPA standard, depending on the vehicle and type of driving conditions. In other tests where the vehicle does not experience driving conditions similar to the start of the federal test procedure, the emissions are higher from the start, consistent with “normal mode.”

VW's software on these vehicles includes one or more Auxiliary Emission Control Devices (AECD) that the company failed to disclose, describe and justify in their applications for certificate of conformity for each model. Every manufacturer must apply to EPA for and be approved for a certificate of conformity for each model, each year otherwise it is illegal to introduce the cars into commerce. An AECD designed to circumvent emissions test is a defeat device.

The Clean Air Act requires vehicle manufacturers to certify to EPA that their products will meet applicable federal emission standards to control air pollution, and every vehicle sold in the U.S. must be covered by an EPA-issued certificate of conformity. The Clean Air Act also prohibits manufacturers’ making and selling vehicles equipped with defeat devices that reduce the effectiveness of the emission control system during normal driving conditions. By making and selling vehicles with defeat devices and by selling vehicles with higher levels of air emissions than were certified to EPA, Volkswagen allegedly violated two important provisions of the Clean Air Act.

NOx pollution contributes to harmful ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter. Exposure to these pollutants has been linked with a range of serious health effects, including increased asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses. Exposure to ozone and particulate matter has also been associated with premature death due to respiratory-related or cardiovascular-related effects. Children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing respiratory disease are particularly at risk of health effects from exposure to these pollutants.

VW may be liable for civil penalties and injunctive relief for the violations alleged in the NOV. VW will have an opportunity to respond to the allegations contained in the NOV.

It is Volkswagen’s responsibility to fix the vehicles’ emissions systems. Although these vehicles have emissions exceeding standards, these violations do not present a safety hazard for car owners and drivers and the vehicles remain legal to drive and resell. Owners of vehicles of these models and years do not need to take any action at this time. Owners looking for additional information can visit:
http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/cert/violations.htm and scroll down to Frequently Asked Questions.

More information on EPA’s NOV and EPA’s VW investigation:
http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/cert/violations.htm|

More information on CARB’s In-Use Compliance Letter:
http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/vw_info/vw_diesel_info.htm

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