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Volkswagen Cheats and We All Lose

VOLKSWAGEN CHEATS AND WE ALL LOSE

Volkswagen recently admitted to installing "defeat device" software in approximately eleven million of its diesel vehicles world-wide. The software reduced tailpipe emissions when the cars were being tested, enabling them to meet emissions requirements and pass vehicle emissions testing. However, when the cars containing this software were on the road, they emitted up to forty times the allowable level of nitrogen oxide, one of the main contributors to smog.

The high emissions levels were discovered two years ago during a study undertaken by West Virginia University to compare European diesel emissions standards with those of U.S. diesel engines on the market. Expecting to find the U.S. models with better emissions levels than their European counterparts, the researchers were shocked when the opposite occurred. When the findings were made public, Volkswagen issued two limited recalls and a software patch remedy. When vehicles with the remedy were tested, however, the emissions levels were still too high. Not yet knowing about the defeat device software, government officials from the EPA worked with VW to try to determine why certain diesel models were emitting such high levels of pollutants. Months of testing went on before VW finally admitted that it was intentionally cheating.

#TRUTH IN ENGINEERING A LIE

Fraud. On an epic scale. The shock waves from Volkswagen's brazen scheme to defraud clean air standards are being felt around the world. On September 29, 2015 Volkswagen announced plans to recall the eleven million cars containing the defeat device software; approximately a half million of those cars are in the United States. In addition, U.S. sales have been suspended. As of October 2, 2015, over one-third of Volkswagen's market value had been wiped out by the scandal--thirty-four billion dollars gone. The amount of penalties expected to be levied world-wide is in the billions; VW could owe eighteen billion in clean air penalties to the United States alone. Many countries, including the United States, are investigating VW's actions for possible criminal prosecution, and criminal penalties and/or fines could also be forthcoming.

The question everyone is asking is: why? Why would one of the world's biggest automakers--the biggest automaker in Europe--cheat on compliance with clean air standards? Some speculate that the clean diesel engine technology that Volkswagen promised to provide without compromising performance standards ended up not being possible to achieve. Compromising on performance would translate into lower market shares for diesel cars, particularly in the U.S. market in which Volkswagen was trying to establish a dominant presence. Others point out that cheating schemes have been undertaken before by other car makers, and VW is no different except that it got caught.

But the Volkswagen scandal is different. The installation of such sophisticated software in so many vehicles means complicity in the fraud from top corporate executives and engineers. #Truth in Engineering turned out to be a lie.

NOT A VICTIMLESS CRIME

The fraud is not only a matter of lost market share, plunging stock values, and unmasked corporate greed. Many scientists are now calculating that half a million vehicles spewing up to forty times the legal limit of nitrogen oxides into the air for seven years resulted in a nearly equivalent death toll in the United States as the GM ignition switch defect, which took the lives of at least 124 people. The number of deaths in Europe resulting from VW's fraudulent actions is much higher due not only to the greater number of cars driven with the defeat device software, but also due to the less stringent standards applied to the testing.

In addition to the deaths caused by increased emissions, conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart disease are all exacerbated by higher levels of smog.

Furthermore, owners of diesel engine VWs are worried that when their cars are fixed to emit lower levels of pollutants, their performance will suffer; i.e. their cars will have less pick-up and be slower. That in turn, the car owners fear, will translate into lower market value. At the very least, these car owners argue that the car they paid for and thought they bought was not at all what they were sold.

CONTACT YOUR ATTORNEY

If you drive a VW with a diesel engine, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm to determine: (1) if your vehicle is one of the cars being recalled; and (2) if you have any legal rights to compensation for any lost market value to your car, or for any injury suffered as a result of exposure to higher levels of smog in your county.

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