Volkswagen’s Alleged Violation of Clean Air Standards

Keller Rohrback is investigating allegations that automakers Volkswagen AG (ETR:VOW3), Audi AG (ETR:NSU), and Volkswagen Group of America (“Volkswagen”) included unlawful software in diesel vehicles to circumvent emissions standards.

Today, the EPA issued a Notice of Violation stating that Volkswagen allegedly designed and installed “defeat devices” to detect when a vehicle is undergoing official emissions testing, and to turn full emissions controls on only during that test. The full emissions controls are not turned on during normal driving.

The EPA said that Volkswagen violated the Clean Air Act by installing the devices to “bypass, defeat, or render inoperative elements of vehicles’ emission control system.” The devices were allegedly installed in certain model year 2009 through 2015 diesel light-duty vehicles.

According to the EPA, the affected models include:  

• Jetta (Model Years 2009 – 2015) 
• Jetta Sportwagen (Model Years 2009 – 2014)
• Beetle (Model Years 2012 – 2015)
• Beetle Convertible (Model Years 2012 – 2015) 
• Audi A3 (Model Years 2010 – 2015) 
• Golf (Model Years 2010 – 2015)
• Golf Sportwagen (Model Year 2015) 
• Passat (Model Years 2012 – 2015) 

“The EPA’s notice of violation against the automotive giant is a step in the right direction, but it is not nearly enough to compensate people who bought these apparently faulty vehicles,” said Matthew Preusch, a Keller Rohrback attorney in Santa Barbara with experience in consumer class action cases. “It appears consumers may have paid a premium for certain Volkswagen diesel vehicles based on the company’s representations that those vehicles complied with emission standards. The vehicles’ resale values are also affected.”

The defeat devices expose the public to harmful pollutants including unsafe carbon monoxide emissions, nitrogen oxides, ground-level ozone, and fine particle matter, according to the EPA. The federal agency said exposure to such pollutants potentially increases the public’s susceptibility to “a range of serious health effects, including increased asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses” some of which can result in hospitalization.

The EPA said the levels of nitrous oxide being emitting is 10 to 40 times what is allowed under emission standards.

The New York Times reports that the Obama administration ordered Volkswagen to “recall nearly a half million cars from the road” today. The California Air Resources Board also sent a letter to Volkswagen stating that it is investigating “all model-year 2009 through 2015 light-duty diesel vehicles equipped with 2.0 liter engines,” suggesting the problem could be more widespread.

If you or a family member owns or leases any of the affected vehicles described above that vehicle is subject to a recall, or if you are concerned that your vehicle is part of the recall, please call attorneys Gretchen Freeman CappioMatthew Preusch, or Daniel Mensher at 866.560.4043 or via email at  to discuss our investigation and your potential claims against Volkswagen.

Check out the Keller Rohrback Volkswagen Diesel Resource Center 

Keller Rohrback L.L.P., with offices in Seattle, Phoenix, New York, and Santa Barbara, serves as lead and co-lead counsel in class actions throughout the country. Our Complex Litigation Group is proud to offer its expertise to clients nationwide, and our trial lawyers have obtained judgments and settlements on behalf of clients in excess of seven billion dollars.


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