A scandal over falsified emissions tests could affect 11 million Volkswagen vehicles worldwide. The scandal erupted earlier this month when U.S. regulators announced that Volkswagen has deliberately programmed 500,000 of its vehicles to emit lower levels of emissions when being tested than they emit while driving. Since then, the Volkswagen announced that its internal investigations had found that 11 million vehicles could be affected. Earlier this year, Volkswagen became the world’s largest automaker in terms of vehicle sales.
The CEO of Volkswagen has publicly apologized, and Volkswagen announced that it has set aside $7.3 billion to cover the cost of recalls. However, the total bill could be much higher than $7.3 billion. The company is likely to face billions in criminal and civil penalties in the U.S. The CEO resigned last week.
According to regulators in the U.S., Volkswagen violated environmental standards by programming engine management software in some diesel cars to turn on only when taking emissions tests. When driving, the cars were allowed to emit up to 40 times more emissions than when being tested.
Currently, it’s unclear whether other automobile manufacturers are employing similar tactics. A European environmental group issued a report earlier this month that suggested that other manufacturers may be utilizing technology that allows their diesel cars to appear cleaner in official tests as opposed to driving on roads.
This Volkswagen scandal is only the latest emissions scandal to erupt in the past several decades. In the 1970s, the EPA found that Ford had violated emissions rules by constantly maintaining its test cars, which is not reflective of real-life driving conditions. Over the next two years, Volkswagen and Chrysler were found to have installed “defeat devices” that shut down a vehicle’s pollution control systems. Those devices are banned by the EPA, but have continued to be used in more sophisticated ways.
Although this scandal does not appear to directly put drivers and passengers in danger of serious personal injury, it illustrates willingness on the part of automobile manufacturers to obscure pertinent safety information simply to sell more cars. For example, over the past several decades, car manufacturers have hidden dangers posed by their vehicles, rather than issuing recalls. In recent years, GM covered up issues with its defective ignition switches, resulting in over 100 deaths and many serious injuries. Toyota failed to disclose dangers posed by unintended acceleration of its vehicles, and refused to issue a recall for airbags that exploded and sent shrapnel throughout the vehicle.
When an automobile manufacturer makes a defective vehicle, the manufacturer can be sued for damages if a person is injured due to those defects. The injured individual may be able to receive damages for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses, and more. If it can be proven that the company knew about the issue earlier and failed to recall the vehicles, the company may also be liable for punitive damages, which are designed to punish the company.
If you have been injured in an automobile collision that you believe was caused by an automobile defect, call Micha Star Liberty, San Francisco automobile accident attorney, at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that companies should be held responsible for dangerous products they manufacture. She works with clients throughout the San Francisco area, including Oakland, Hayward, Tracy, Fairfield, Berkeley, San Jose, and the surrounding areas. Call her today to schedule your free consultation. You pay nothing in legal fees unless we win your case.