Everything you need to know about Srourian Law Firm’s lawsuit vs. Volkswagen
After years of marketing and selling so-called “clean diesel” vehicles, Volkswagen has admitted to installing illegal software in its 2009-2015 diesel Jetta, Passat, Golf, Beetle, and Audi A3 vehicles, which was designed to cheat federal and state emissions testing.
The resulting damages for VW and Audi owners includes loss of value, inability to sell vehicles, reduced efficiency, and massively increased eco footprints for cars advertised as “Clean Diesels.”
Our attorneys have filed a class action lawsuit alleging Volkswagen defrauded consumers when it marketed and sold these “clean diesel” vehicles.
Below are additional details to paint the full picture.
Here is some more information to fill you in on what’s going on. In the meanwhile, if you or someone you know owns a VW diesel Jetta, Jetta Sportwagen, Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Audi A3, Golf, Golf Sportwagen, or Passat, please contact us for a free, confidential consultation. We can help.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
On September 18, 2015, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accused Volkswagen of installing software on 482,000 diesel cars in the U.S. to evade federal emission regulations, potentially exposing people to harmful pollutants. The German automaker adopted what the EPA called a “defeat device” to trick U.S. regulators into believing that its cars met Clean Air Act standards, the federal agency said in a statement.
Those cars emitted nitrogen oxides, which can exacerbate respiratory conditions such as asthma, at up to 40 times the standard level, the EPA said. The technology tricks regulators into believing that four-cylinder diesel cars comply with emissions standards, but the cars are actually emitting harmful pollutants at rates of up to 40 times acceptable standards.
The “defeat device” technology allowed these cars to emit harmful pollutants such as nitrogen oxides at rates of up to 40 times acceptable standards.
Volkswagen admitted that this software was designed to fool regulators and affects 11 million vehicles worldwide. This could cost more than $7 billion to address, threatening to undermine its position as the world’s largest automaker. Volkswagen has instructed dealers to not sell the 4-cylinder diesel versions of defected cars until a fix is available.
HOW DOES VOLKSWAGEN’S ILLEGAL SOFTWARE WORK?
The illegal software works by switching pollution controls on during emissions testing, and off during normal driving. When the vehicles are actually driven (as opposed to being tested), they can emit ten to forty times the lawful amount of nitrogen oxide—a pollutant that contributes to smog and serious health problems.
YOU PAID A PREMIUM
Volkswagen diesel buyers paid anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000 more for car equipped with the falsely advertised fuel-saving engines under the “Clean Diesel” moniker, compared with the usual gas engines.
In efforts to minimize their environmental impact, consumers that bought the diesel car paid a hefty price premium over the price of the gas versions of the same vehicles. The table below shows the premiums paid by Volkswagen’s Clean Diesel owners:
CLEAN DIESEL PRICE PREMIUMS
Model Base Mid-level Top-line
VW Jetta $2,860 $4,300 $6,315
VW Beetle $4,635 n/a $2,640
VW Golf $2,950 $1,000 $1,000
VW Passat $5,755 $4,750 $6,855
Audi A3 $2,805 $3,095 $2,925
VOLKSWAGEN ADMITS TO USING DEFEAT DEVICE AFTER MONTHS OF INVESTIGATION
This suit follows on the heels of an investigation by federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Environmental Protection Agency (CARB). CARB and the EPA were first alerted to the emissions problems with these vehicles as the result of a study published by West Virginia University’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines & Emissions. When CARB and the EPA began to investigate the issue in May 2014, Volkswagen told the agencies that the increased emissions were the result of technical issues or unexpected conditions.
Although Volkswagen issued a voluntary recall in 2014, testing performed by CARB showed only a limited benefit. As a result, CARB and the EPA decided not to approve VW’s 2016 diesel vehicles for certification until it explained the emissions. According to the EPA, “[o]nly then did VW admit it had designed and installed a defeat device in these vehicles in the form of a sophisticated software algorithm that detected when a vehicle was undergoing emissions testing.”
EPA ISSUES NOTICE OF VIOLATION TO VOLKSWAGEN
The EPA described its investigation and initial conclusions in a Notice of Violation issued to Volkswagen on September 18, 2015. There, it stated that the affected Volkswagen diesel vehicles contain software in the electronic control module (ECM) that sensed when the vehicle was being testing for emissions compliance.
To determine whether the vehicle was undergoing emissions testing, the software would detect changes in the position of the steering wheel, vehicle speed, the duration of engine operation, and barometric pressure. The EPA’s notice of violation describes that “[a]t all other times during normal operation, the ‘switch’ was activated and the vehicle ECM software ran a separate ‘road calibration’ which reduced the effectiveness of the emission control system.”
According to Cynthia Giles, the EPA’s assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance, the use of a defeat device “to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health.”
The New York Times reports that nitrogen oxide contributes to climate change creating ozone and smog. The newspaper also linked nitrogen oxide to a range of health problems, including asthma attacks and other respiratory diseases, cardiovascular complications, and even premature death.
EPA regulators said that Volkswagen adopted a “sophisticated” algorithm that turned on vehicles’ full emissions controls when it detected they were being tested for emissions performance.
“We intend to hold Volkswagen responsible,” Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, told reporters in a conference call.
“VW was concealing the facts from the EPA, the state of California and from consumers. We expected better from VW,” Giles said. “We thought it was important to inform the public right away of these violations.”
“VW may be liable for civil penalties and injunctive relief for the violations alleged,” the EPA said in a statement.
EPA and California regulators discovered the device after researchers at West Virginia University and the International Council on Clean Transportation “raised questions about emissions levels” in Volkswagen cars, the federal agency said.
VW TO FACE FINES, REGULATIONS AND POTENTIAL CRIMINAL CHARGES
The company faces fines for violations of the Clean Air Act of up to $37,500 for each affected VW emissions recall vehicle. At an estimated 482,000 vehicles, the potential fines could reach as much as $18 billion in the U.S. alone. Federal lawsuits will be separate from any individual lawsuits our firm has brought. The automaker is also part of a criminal probe by the U.S. Justice Department, unnamed sources told The Associated Press and Bloomberg News.
European regulators are expected to place Volkswagen under intense scrutiny. And the scandal could bode poorly for Volkswagen in the world’s largest vehicle market, China, where Volkswagen is No. 1 by market share.
Volkswagen said it would set aside 6.5 billion euro, or $7.3 billion, in its third quarter to address the matter and warned that the amount could change.
CONSUMER REPORTS WITHDRAWS RECOMMENDATIONS
Consumer Reports has withdrawn its “recommended” rating for diesel Jettas and Passats as a result of VW’s admission of cheating on pollution control tests calling the Volkswagen scandal “outrageous” and a violation of law.
“Volkswagen was ripping off the consumer and hurting the environment at the same time,” said Ellen Bloom, senior director of federal policy for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports.
DECREASED RESALE VALUES
Another concern for current owners is how the resale values will react when Volkswagen eventually restarts selling the diesel models now sitting idle on lots. If VW chooses to get rid of that inventory by offering great incentives and significantly lowering diesel car prices, demand for used cars would drop along with their prices.
It is believed that Volkswagen won’t be able to make the vehicles comply with emissions standards without substantially degrading their performance characteristics, including their horsepower and their efficiency. As a result, even if Volkswagen is able to make vehicles EPA compliant, the owners will nonetheless suffer actual harm and damages because their vehicles will no longer perform as they did when purchased and as advertised.
CAN I GET A REFUND FOR MY VW DIESEL EMISSIONS CAR?
Company leadership has not yet said Volkswagen will issue refunds, and it is still unclear how exactly the $7.27 billion will be spent. As people around the country have already begun to express their frustration with the company, here’s how to find out if your Volkswagen was affected, if it needs to be recalled and if you’re entitled to a refund.
Cars must meet the following criteria:
• It must be a Volkswagen or an Audi
• It must be a diesel
• It must be model year 2009 or newer
• It must be either a Jetta, Passat, Golf, or A3
• Not all diesel-fueled engines were affected by the faulty software
Exact Models affected:
Jetta (Manufacturing year 2009 – 2015)
Jetta Sportwagen (2009-2014)
Beetle (2012 – 2015)
Beetle Convertible (2012-2015)
Audi A3 (2010 – 2015)
Golf (2010 – 2015)
Golf Sportwagen (2015)
CAN I KEEP DRIVING MY VW DIESEL RECALLED CAR?
If you own one of these vehicles, you’re fine to keep driving it for now, the EPA said. It remains unclear how VW will address the problem but experts say changes will likely cause the car to use more fuel and hurt performance.
HOW MUCH TO FIX MY VW EMISSIONS CAR?
The presumed fix would come by retrofitting a Selective Catalytic Reduction (Adblue or urea) system although that wouldn’t be the only fix necessary.
The long list of items needed to fit models of the Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, Beetle and Audi A3 doesn’t include the engineering needed to retrofit the cars and the costs to crash test the models after the significant modifications. That will add hundreds of millions to the bottom line.
Bozi Tatarevic from thetruthaboutcars.com provided his preliminary list of additions (retail prices) that would be needed for each car based on the systems included in the Passat TDI:
• Cooler ($361)
• Aftertreatment Fuel Tank ($534)
• Dosing Valve ($240)
• DPFE ($105)
• Temperature Sensor ($171)
• EGR ($401)
• Catalyst ($688) Total = $2,500 (plus labor)
Bozi points out that the urea tank most likely couldn’t be installed into the rear trunks due to the corrosive nature of the fluid. The secondary tanks would likely need to be installed under the car, next to a smaller, also-replaced, fuel tank. That would be an additional cost to Volkswagen (hundreds of dollars for each car) and further necessitate all new safety ratings.
The parts costs don’t take into account the hours of labor, which for a Jetta is 6-7 hours to change the diesel particulate filter alone. Such a substantial retrofit on their cars could take dozens of hours, incurring thousands in labor costs that Volkswagen would have to reimburse its dealers for. Labor rates, typically ~$100/hour, would likely be less for Volkswagen and the automaker would only reimburse dealers for the completion time detailed in the recall order.
Any sort of recall repair work and would need to be weighed against the cost for VW to buy back its own cars, which for a 2009 Jetta TDI, starts at about $7,000.
DO I QUALIFY FOR A VOLKSWAGEN LAWSUIT?
The actions of Volkswagen AG could impact the value of affected automobiles. If that is the case, then consumers who have purchased those vehicles could be entitled to compensation for their losses, including reduced value of their car and the costs of any repairs needed to satisfy U.S. regulators, as well as possible violations of state and federal deceptive trade practices act. If you purchased a Volkswagen Jetta, Jetta Sportwagen, Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Audi A3, Golf, Golf Sportwagen, or Passat diesel-fueled vehicle, model years 2009-2015, contact our Volkswagen emissions lawyers for more information. Srourian Law Firm is currently accepting VW diesel recall cases in all 50 states. We can help answer your questions and explain your options in a free, no-obligation consultation.
HOW MUCH DOES A VW EMISSIONS LAWYER COST?
Our Volkswagen recall lawyers provide absolutely free confidential consultation and we never will charge you any fees or costs unless you first recover. Additionally, we are asking the Court to order Volkswagen and Audi to pay all attorneys’ fees and costs.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE A VW CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT?
Every state has maximum time limitations on when an injury claim must be filed. These time restrictions are known as statutes of limitations. If a claim is not filed before the statute of limitation expires, the injured persons are forever prevented from bringing a claim against the entities and persons who may be liable for their damages.
SROURIAN LAW FIRM’S CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT
The class action lawsuit alleges that Volkswagen’s conduct violates California’s consumer protection statutes and common law, and is a breach of applicable warranties. The suit seeks actual and punitive damages, a refund or repair of the vehicle, and asks the court to order Volkswagen to stop this deceptive conduct.
Srourian Law Firm, with locations in Los Angeles, Westwood, Woodland Hills, and Orange County is aggressively investigating claims against Volkswagen as it appears the manufacturer’s action could impact the value of affected automobiles. If you or someone you know owns a VW diesel Jetta, Jetta Sportwagen, Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Audi A3, Golf, Golf Sportwagen, or Passat, you may be entitled to compensation as a part of the Volkswagen class action lawsuit. Please contact us to speak with one of our lawyers for a free consultation.
Read a copy of the filed lawsuit here.