December 15, 2015 - Updated January 2016
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An internal investigation at Volkswagen that granted immunity to employees who came forward has determined that the origin of the company`s emissions deception may go back as far as 2005, when unattainable objectives were set for their diesel engine program in the United States. So far, more than 50 people are reported to have come forward, thanks to the offer of immunity. Some VW Group managers have been fired, asked to retire or put on leave. Here are some other recent developments in the emissions violations situation:
i) Audi has announced it has developed a software fix for the 3L V6 diesel engine, also used in the Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg. This computer reprogramming solution awaits U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approval; it is reported to be simple (relatively speaking!) and will not degrade performance or economy. That would leave the Audi A3 diesel as the only vehicle affected for the two brands. If all goes according to plan, the sale of new and used V6 diesels on VW-Audi-Porsche dealer lots could resume in early 2016.
ii) Owners of four cylinder VW diesels used in the VW Golf, Beetle, and Jetta have begun receiving their $500 holiday gift cards (to be used toward any purchase), and $500 cards toward the purchase of a new vehicle or service at a VW dealership. Click here to register if you own one of the affected vehicles. VW Canada has stated that acceptance of the offer will not deprive owners of any additional claims they may be entitled to under the various class actions filed over this issue.
iii) The four cylinder diesel is reported to require relatively simple modifications to its air intake and computer programming to become compliant with less stringent European NOx standards. VW is rolling out the European recall which it plans to complete in calendar year 2016. It appears that the fix is not sufficient to meet North American NOx standards which were less than half the permissible level in Europe until 2014.
iv) It is likely there will be more than one correction for the 2L diesel sold in North America. The 2014 and 2015 model diesels delivered with an AdBlue exhaust treatment system may be easier to bring into compliance. Making the widely sold 2L diesel that does not use the AdBlue system compliant is still a significant challenge. VW has promised a game plan for North America in early 2016. These are the engines that were the subject of the original EPA inquiry and a deceptive fake recall by VW in early 2015, so EPA is likely to proceed with caution when approving a fix. Automotive News reported that VW has developed a more effective catalytic converter for the exhaust system that could make the affected engines compliant; however, U.S. regulators stated they are not satisfied with the proposed modifications. Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety predicts that many of the older vehicles covered by a potential recall will never be corrected; currently at best only two in three older vehicles recalled are brought in for a repair.
iv) Porsche Canada extended the warranty for 2013 - 2015 models with the 3.0L V6 diesel to 6 years/160,000 km, by extending a Porsche Approved used vehicle warranty automatically to affected vehicles. If you own an affected vehicle, you can find out more information on the Porsche website.
Other recent developments
On December 17, VW announced that it has retained Ken Feinberg to administer consumer claims. Mr. Feinberg is the most widely recognized authority in the area of alternative resolution in the United States, having administered the payouts by BP after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and more recently injury and fatality claims resulting from delays in the GM ignition switch recall that claimed 124 lives. Mr. Feinberg will develop a more flexible, faster deal than the conventional class action process. The New York Times reported that Mr. Feinberg`s jurisdiction will be limited to the United States, but in the GM case his program was eventually extended to Canada.
On January 4th, the U.S. Department of Justice filed charges against VW seeking fines of more than $30,000 per vehicle sold. The next day, the Center for Auto Safety, a Washington-based public interest group asked to join the action as an intervenor acting on behalf of the public.
Volkswagen TDI models affected by emissions test cheating
2L 4 cylinder diesel
2009 - 2015 Jetta & Wagon
2010 - 2015 Golf
2012 - 2015 Passat*
2013 - 2015 Beetle
2010 - 2015 Audi A3 TDI
*(2012-2013 Passat diesels have the AdBlue exhaust treatment system and may not be affected)
3L V6 Diesel
2014 Touareg 3.0L
2016 Audi A6, A7, A8, Q5
2015 Porsche Cayenne