EPA Accuses Volkswagen of Dodging Emissions Rules
No recall of auto maker’s cars is currently under way and agency says vehicles remain safe to driveBy Amy Harder and Mike Spector, WSJ
Updated Sept. 18, 2015 4:05 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accused Volkswagen AG of deliberately dodging air-pollution rules on nearly half a million cars sold, furthering an Obama administration crackdown on auto makers for flouting regulations intended to reduce tailpipe emissions.
The EPA, which unveiled the allegations with the California Air Resources Board, issued a notice on Friday alleging the German auto maker used software in the cars to get around government emissions tests. EPA officials said the software, dubbed a “defeat device,” worked to make 482,000 Volkswagen cars appear cleaner than they were. The Clean Air Act requires vehicle manufacturers to certify to EPA that their products meet federal air-pollution standards.
EPA officials said Volkswagen violated two parts of the federal Clean Air Act and could face sizable financial penalties of up to $37,500 per car, or more than $18 billion. But it remained unclear whether the government would seek such an onerous penalty. The EPA in November 2014 hit South Korean auto makers Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. with a record $100 million penalty for overstating fuel-economy claims and forced the companies to cough up another $200 million in regulatory credits.
No recall of the Volkswagen cars is currently under way and the agency said the vehicles remain safe and legal to drive. But officials said Volkswagen would eventually have to recall the cars and fix them, though that could take up to a year. They said there were working closely with the Justice Department and an investigation continued.