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Volkswagen accused of evading clean air standards

September 18, 2015

US regulators have called German carmaker Volkswagen out for intentionally violating clean air standards. If the allegations are true, the Wolfsburg-based company could face billions of dollars in fines.

Exhaust pipe
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday accused Volkswagen of deliberately circumventing clean air rules on nearly 500,000 diesel cars, by using software that evades the agency's emissions standards.

The feature, known as a "defeat device," detects when the car's emissions are being tested and turns on full emissions control systems only then. During normal driving situations, the controls are turned off, the EPA said.

This could result in cars releasing as much as 40 times more emissions allowed under clean air rules meant to ensure public health is protected," Cynthia Giles, an EPA enforcement officer, told reporters in a teleconference.

Public threat

"Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health," she said.

Prior to issuing the violation notice, the EPA said it worked with the California Air Resources Board and would continue to investigate "these very serious matters."

If the allegations turn out to be true, Volkswagen could face penalties of up to $18 billion (15.8 billion euros). The German automaker said it is cooperating in the investigation.

The recall affects about 482,000 diesel passenger cars sold in the US since 2009.

el/hg (AP, dpa, Reuters)