Why Will The VW Emission Scandal Force A Recall Of Vehicles?

by Terry Bryant

The VW emission scandal will force recall actions by the legendary automaker, something which is normally reserved for vehicles that have safety issues. But the manufacturer’s problems won’t end there, as it likely faces a wave of lawsuits and fines as well. The company’s primary decision makers could even face criminal prosecution, so it could be years before the full cost of the scandal becomes apparent.

Volkswagen’s marketing has focused on the environmental impact of its diesel engines, claiming that they produce fewer airborne pollutants. However, Volkswagen cheated testing methods by installing “defeat devices” in its cars. These devices recognize when the vehicle is being tested, and switch the engine into a low performance mode that does in fact produce fewer pollutants. However, as soon as the vehicle is back on the road, the device switches the engine back to normal, and in this mode, the vehicles produce a level of nitrogen oxide that’s 40 times the legal limit.

This level of deceit is unprecedented, and why Volkswagen likely faces the most expensive fallout in automotive history. Although it has already set aside more than $7 billion for fines and lawsuits, the VW emission scandal involves a recall of 500,000 vehicles in the U.S. alone. If the EPA fines the company for every violation, which it has the power to do, it could face up to $18 billion in fines alone. Couple that with dozens of lawsuits already forming around the world, and it’s clear that the legendary German automaker’s troubles are only beginning.