CARB rejects VW recall issues Violation

SACRAMENTO – The California Air Resources Board (CARB) today notified Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. that it is rejecting VW’s submitted recall plan for 2-liter diesel passenger vehicles sold in California between 2009 and 2015. It also notified VW of violations of California air quality regulations associated with the company’s use of a “defeat device” in those cars.

“Volkswagen made a decision to cheat on emissions tests and then tried to cover it up,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “They continued and compounded the lie and when they were caught they tried to deny it. The result is thousands of tons of nitrogen oxide that have harmed the health of Californians. They need to make it right. Today’s action is a step in the direction of assuring that will happen.”

Today’s actions do not preclude a recall, but allow for a broader array of potential remedies. CARB will continue its investigation and technical evaluations with EPA to return the vehicles to legally required emission levels, determine mitigation for past and future environmental harm, and assess penalties.

Background

Volkswagen officials admitted the existence of the defeat device to CARB and United States Environmental Protection Agency officials in early September. On September 18, 2015, CARB issued an In-use Compliance Letter to the company listing violations and giving them 45 business days to submit a proposal to recall and repair the affected vehicles. U.S. EPA issued a Notice of Violation to the company on the same day. The defeat devices were installed on VW’s 2.0L diesel vehicles manufactured for model year (MY) 2009 through MY 2015 to circumvent CARB and EPA emission test procedures. This made it possible for VW to obtain Executive Orders from CARB and Certificates of Conformity from EPA for these vehicles so the vehicles could be sold in California. As a result, the certifications were illegally obtained. The consequences of VW’s actions are significant and must be addressed expeditiously.

Recall Plan Rejection

The rejection of VW’s submitted recall plans details the specific areas that are required under California law in order for a recall plan to be formally approved. VW’s recall plan fell short in several areas, including:
The proposed plans contain gaps and lack sufficient detail.
The descriptions of proposed repairs lack enough information for a technical evaluation; and
The proposals do not adequately address overall impacts on vehicle performance, emissions and safety

This rejection only applies to VW’s diesel 2.0L vehicles, not 3.0L vehicles. The submission of the recall plan for 3.0L vehicles is due to CARB on February 2, 2016.

Notice of Violation

The NOV details 13 specific violations of California regulations, including failure to comply with the emission standards or test procedures; invalid certification applications; the use of Defeat Devices; the importation, delivery, purchase, acquisition, or receipt of uncertified vehicles; the sale of vehicles that do not meet emission standards; and failure to comply with onboard diagnostic (OBD) system requirements.

CARB will continue its investigation. The NOV may be supplemented or amended, as needed.

Environmental Harm

The defeat devices on VW’s diesel vehicles have caused substantial excess, illegal, and ongoing emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the vehicles. NOx emissions in California are the most important contributor to ambient ozone and a key contributor to fine particulate matter pollution, which is associated with premature death, increased hospitalizations, emergency room visits due to exacerbation of chronic heart and lung diseases, and other serious health impacts. California is home to both the highest ozone levels (South Coast) and ambient particulate matter levels (San Joaquin Valley) measured in the United States. Twelve million Californians live in communities that exceed the federal ozone and particulate matter ambient air quality standards that were put in place to protect public health. VW must mitigate the harm that these vehicles have already caused and continue to cause.

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About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.