AG Healey Advisory for Consumers Affected by Volkswagen Emissions Investigation
Massachusetts AG’s Office One of Six States Leading Investigation into VW’s Conduct
BOSTON – Following Volkswagen’s admission that it installed software to cheat emissions tests performed on its diesel vehicles, Attorney General Maura Healey today issued an advisory with information to help affected drivers.
“Our office takes this unlawful conduct very seriously and is one of the lead states investigating the matter,” AG Healey said. “This emissions test cheating scandal is egregious, purposeful conduct that has harmed public health and air quality and thousands of consumers in Massachusetts. We will work with attorneys general across the country to hold this company accountable for using software to hide dangerous pollution.”
AG Healey’s investigation – also led by attorneys general in Connecticut, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington – follows a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act in September from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleging that four-cylinder Volkswagen-owned brands from model years 2009-2015 include “defeat device” software intended to circumvent applicable emissions standards for certain air pollutants. Last week, EPA alleged that Volkswagen also developed and installed a defeat device in certain VW, Audi and Porsche diesel vehicles for model years 2014 through 2016.
Approximately 14,500 Volkswagen-branded diesel vehicles for the relevant model years were placed for sale in Massachusetts.
Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Porsche AG and Porsche Cars North America – collectively referred to as Volkswagen – are now being investigated by 47 states and the District of Columbia for installing this software, which senses when an emission test is being administered and falsifies the results by turning the emissions control system on during the test, but off during the normal operation of the vehicle. This software affects roughly a half million cars in the United States.
As a result of Volkswagen’s conduct, the diesel vehicles can produce from 9 to 40 times more nitrogen oxide (NOx) than permitted under applicable emissions standards. NOx can cause serious respiratory effect in humans, particularly the very young and the elderly, when it combines in the atmosphere with certain other chemicals to form ground-level ozone smog.
The focus of the investigation is on determining the scope of Volkswagen’s violations of state consumer protection and environmental laws and appropriate remedial and punitive measures, including financial restitution for consumers, prompt repair of the defects at issue and imposition of civil penalties.
AG Healey offers the following information for consumers who own one of these diesel vehicles and may be affected by Volkswagen’s conduct:
What vehicles are affected?
- 2.0 liter diesel models: Jetta (2009 – 2015); Jetta Sportwagen (2009-2014); Beetle (2012 – 2015); Beetle Convertible (2012-2015); Audi A3 (2010 – 2015); Golf (2010 – 2015); Golf Sportwagen (2015); Passat (2012-2015)
- 3.0 liter diesel models: Volkswagen Touareg (2014); Porsche Cayenne (2015); Audi A6 Quattro (2016); Audi A7 Quattro (2016); Audi A8 (2016); Audi Q5 (2016)
- You can find a list of the vehicles with this software and answers to Frequently Asked Questions at EPA’s website: www3.epa.gov/otaq/cert/violations.htm.
- Consumers should continue to bring affected cars to annual safety and emissions inspections.
- The emission system will need to be repaired at a future time, and consumers should promptly cooperate with the EPA approved recall process, once it is announced.
- Volkswagen plans to recall and retrofit 11 million diesel-powered cars worldwide, and must come up with an EPA-approved plan to correct the problem. Although Volkswagen has said that it will be asking owners to bring their cars in soon to have the illegal software deactivated, at present it is unclear when a recall will be issued.
- Affected owners will be notified of that recall once Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi have developed a remedial plan to complete the repairs, including both the repair procedure and manufacture of any needed parts. Depending on the complexity of the repair and the time needed to obtain the necessary components, it could take up to one year to identify corrective actions, develop a recall plan, and issue recall notices.
- Consumers will not be responsible for repair costs related to an emissions recall.
- The federal government has not issued any findings at this time to address how each vehicle’s emissions system would have to be changed to meet air pollution standards.
- At this time, consumers who obtain required recalls will not be held responsible for a problem created by the manufacturer.
- If consumers fail to comply with the recall notices and allow their vehicles to continue to pollute above the emissions standards, their cars are likely to fail annual emissions tests required for registration, and consumers may not be able to operate them lawfully.
- On Monday, VW announced that it will be providing a “Customer Goodwill Package,” including gift cards worth $1,000 and free roadside assistance for three years.
- Both gift cards expire one year after date of issuance.
- To be eligible, consumers must be the registered owner or lessee of a 2.0L Volkswagen TDI vehicle as of Nov. 8, 2015. Visit www.vwdieselinfo.com for additional information and program rules.
- VW has indicated that taking advantage of this package will not affect consumers’ rights.
- This offering by VW does not diminish the seriousness of the deceptive practices and environmental harms that are the subject of the states’ investigation, or the AG’s Office’s determination to hold VW to account for its conduct.