Interesting letter from the California EPA (CARB) to Volkswagen covering the Nitrogen Oxide being emitted by its vehicles during normal driving conditions on the road. What is “really” interesting about this is VW put into play software which detects when the vehicle is being tested causing the vehicle to pass testing. Hat Tip to Bear Poster Tom Bozzo.


At the end of the first page and the beginning of the second page to Volkswagen, CARB Chief of Emissions Compliance for Automotive Ms. Annette Herbert makes the CARB’s case. “concerns of elevated oxides of nitrogen emissions in ‘real world’ driving.” Ms. Herbert goes on stating, “This prompted CARB to initiate an investigation and discussions with the Volkswagen of America Group as to the reasons for the high Nitrogen Oxides emissions from their 2.0 liter engine observed during real world driving.” In this 2nd paragraph, Volkswagen admits in September of this year to having employed a mechanism since 2009 to “circumvent CARB and EPA test procedures.”


The rest of the 2nd page gets interesting as this is not the first time CARB called Volkswagen attention to the Nitrogen Oxide emissions. In the later part of 2014, Volkswagen recalled ~500,000 in the US from 2009-2014 with Gen1 and Gen2 technology. The recall was to have fixed the Nitrogen Oxide emissions. While it did lower the emissions somewhat, the emission rate was still higher than CARB and EPA standards. Beginning at the end of the 2nd page and the beginning of the 3rd page, Volkswagen admits during a September 3rd meeting, the vehicles were designed and manufactured with a defeat mechanism to over ride the emissions system. The mechanism was in place to “bypass, defeat, or render inoperative elements of the vehicles emission control system.” Oh, to be a bug on the wall during this meeting! I can not imagine the stunned silence. Having worked in automotive doe decades, this type of flaw happens through mistake, carelessness, or age. It is rare to see a failure of pollution or safety systems by design-intent or at least I have not seen it.


On the last page near the end, CARB states it will “initiate an enforcement investigation of Volkswagen regarding all 2009-2015 vehicles equipped with 2.0 liter engines.” Since the US does not jail bankers, it will probably not jail Volkswagen executives. Look to huge fines.

Matthew Daly of Talking Points News appears to have been one of the first to break this story on Friday, September 18, 2015. Matthew states Volkswagen faces ~$38,000 in fines per vehicle (2009-2015 Jetta, Beetle, Passat, Audi, and Golf) for the ~500,000 vehicles having this technology and defeat mechanism installed in them. The fines equate to ~$18 billion.

References: “EPA Orders Volkswagen Recall Nearly 500K Cars That Dodge Emission Rules” TPM, Matthew Daly, September 18, 2015