• VW and Audi Recall For Smog-Hiding Cars
  • September 25, 2015
  • Law Firm: Lieff Cabraser Heimann Bernstein LLP - San Francisco Office
  • On September 18, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered Volkswagen to recall nearly 482,000 diesel-powered cars in the United States since 2008 sold under the VW and Audi brands (Volkswagen owns Audi) because VW installed software that intentionally changed the vehicles' emissions production during official testing.

    VW programmed the computers in these cars to detect when they were undergoing official emissions testing. Only then did the cars turn on their full emission control systems. The controls are then turned off during actual road use, resulting in better fuel economy and performance, but producing significantly greater pollutants in violation of U.S. clean air laws.

    The cars subject to the recall are as follows:

    • Audi A3 (model years 2010 - 2015)
    • Beetle (model years 2012 - 2015)
    • Beetle Convertible (model years 2012 - 2015)
    • Golf (model years 2010 - 2015)
    • Golf SportWagen (model year 2015)
    • Jetta (model years 2009 - 2015)
    • Jetta SportWagen (model years 2009 - 2014)
    • Passat (model years 2012 - 2015)

    How VW's Deception and Fraud Concerning "Clean Diesel" Engines Harmed Consumers

    Many consumers bought the recalled VW and Audi diesel cars because they thought they were making an environmentally-sound decision, as the cars were marketed as offering high fuel efficiency while emitting low levels of smog-causing pollutants. For example, VW touted its diesel cars with slogans like, "this ain't your daddy's diesel, stinky, smoky, and sluggish." Both the advertised features -- superior fuel efficiency and low pollutant levels -- are now in doubt, potentially significantly reducing the resale or trade-in value of the cars.

    The EPA states that the recalled VW and Audi diesel cars emit up to 40x the national standard for nitrogen oxide, or NOx, which diesel engines emit more than gasoline engines. Nitrogen oxide is linked to respiratory problems, including asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema.

    VW has not revealed how it will fix the cars. It is believed that VW will most likely reprogram the onboard computers to restore the full emissions control systems during all driving conditions. However, "the only way to reprogram the engine to get NOx emissions to acceptable levels will be to reduce engine power and torque," states automotive writer Bill Visnic. "That means on-the-road performance will be compromised. The reprogramming could mean that the diesel engines' outstanding fuel economy -- the primary reason most people buy a diesel ¿- also will be reduced."

    As reported by the New York Times, "whatever the technological solution, it will most likely mean reducing performance, driveability, or fuel economy of the cars to meet emission goals."

    Nationwide VW Recall Class Action Lawsuits Filed

    Lieff Cabraser represents Audi and VW owners in separate class action lawsuits filed in federal courts in New Jersey and California.

    At the heart of the complaints is the charge that for over six years VW intentionally and systematically cheated its customers, lied to the government, and misled the public about the efficacy of its four-cylinder diesel engine vehicles sold under the Volkswagen and Audi brands.

    "VW marketed its 'clean diesel' vehicles as high-performing, fuel efficient, and environmentally-friendly, and consumers bought them for that combination of features," explains attorney Elizabeth Cabraser of Lieff Cabraser. "In truth, VW's clean diesel vehicles are anything but clean. VW sold its customers a car that doesn't exist, and VW needs to make this right. Owners are stuck -- they're reporting that their cars are unsaleable."

    The lawsuits seek statutory penalties and compensatory, exemplary, and punitive damages for the class members -– all persons how purchased or leased the recalled VW and Audi diesel cars.

    The lawsuits also seek several orders, including:

    1. An order compelling Volkswagen to buy back the Class Vehicles on fair and equitable terms; and
    2. A declaration that Volkswagen must disgorge for the benefit of the class members all or part of the ill-gotten profits received from the sale or lease of the recalled vehicles, and make full restitution to class members.