Lawyers from Beasley Allen have joined with other firms and have filed a nationwide class action lawsuit on behalf of Volkswagen owners who were deceived by the automaker’s deliberate end run around Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pollution controls. The EPA has filed notices of violation (NOV) against the automaker, accusing Volkswagen of selling diesel vehicles equipped with software that disguises vehicles’ true nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, covering up violations of the Clean Air Act.
The EPA cited Volkswagen and its affiliates Audi AG and Volkswagen Group of America. The NOV alleges VW and Audi diesel cars from model years 2009-2015 include a so-called “defeat device.” The device allows deliberate deception, turning on pollution controls only during official tests, while actually allowing the vehicles to run “dirty” during normal operation. Tests reveal NOx emissions up to 40 times higher than the federal standard. The suit includes 2009-2015 model years of the involved vehicles.
Volkswagen has now recalled the affected vehicles to fix the cars’ emission systems to meet federal standards. While the violations do not pose a safety hazard, and the cars are legal to drive and resell, the deception will definitely hurt the actual and perceived value of the vehicles, causing financial losses to consumers. The class action lawsuit seeks to address those losses.
Any emissions system involves a trade-off between performance and clean exhaust. All else equal, a cleaner engine produces less power and has worse fuel economy. VW let the diesel engines run a little dirtier to squeeze out more power and better mileage. Reversing the cheat through the recall would take away whatever performance gains the cheat provided. The bottom line is, consumers are not getting what they paid for.
The Clean Air Act requires vehicle manufacturers to certify to EPA that their products will meet applicable federal emission standards to control air pollution. Every vehicle sold in the U.S. must be covered by an EPA-issued certificate of conformity. Motor vehicles equipped with defeat devices, which reduce the effectiveness of the emission control system during normal driving conditions, cannot be certified. By making and selling vehicles with defeat devices that allowed for higher levels of air emissions than were certified to EPA, Volkswagen violated two important provisions of the Clean Air Act.
For more information about this case, or to join the class action lawsuit, contact Dee Miles, Head of our Consumer Fraud and Commercial Litigation Section at 800-898-2034 or by email at Dee.Miles@beasleyallen.com.
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