FTC sues VW over false clean diesel claims
Being green isn’t always easy. So when Volkswagen (VW) said it developed technology that greatly reduces emissions of harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) in its TDI “Clean Diesel” vehicles, environmentally-conscious consumers responded favorably, and sales of TDI vehicles in the U.S. increased substantially.
VW extensively promoted its “Clean Diesel” vehicles as environmentally friendly, having low emissions, and being legally compliant. Here’s a small sampling:
- The Volkswagen Jetta’s clean diesel technology “reduces nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by up to 90% by making internal engine modifications and implementing a NOx storage catalytic converter.”
- Audi TDI “Clean Diesel” vehicles offer "fewer NOx emissions than comparable gasoline engines."
- “Clean Diesel” vehicles “meet the strictest EPA standards in the U.S.”
The FTC is challenging a number of claims VW made about its diesel engine automobiles. Specifically, under its Volkswagen and Audi brands, Volkswagen sold or leased more than 550,000 vehicles containing concealed, illegal “defeat devices.” The devices contained software that hid the fact that the vehicles’ emissions greatly exceeded government emissions standards. The devices were programmed to turn on pollution controls during emissions testing and then turn them off when the cars were on the road. The government alleges that the cars emit as much as 40 times the allowable amount of NOx, which contributes to smog, acid rain, water quality deterioration, childhood asthma, respiratory ailments, and premature death.
So even though Volkswagen extensively marketed these vehicles as “clean” and legally compliant, the truth is, they are neither. The FTC says that widespread deception violated the FTC Act.
In addition to the FTC’s action, EPA and DOJ have sued VW for violations of the Clean Air Act, and, along with the FTC, are working on solutions for consumers. As soon as we know more, we’ll be right here to tell you more. So stay tuned for updates.