How the VW Scandal Began with a Small Research Team

Sep 27

The Volkswagen emissions fraud has rocked the automotive world as one of the biggest scandals in history. Volkswagen admitted to installing illegal devices in their vehicles that would cheat emission tests in order to pass diesel levels, while the actual numbers were up to 40 times the legal amount for vehicles. The company is facing billions in fines and class action lawsuits from owners of the affected vehicles. While it was originally reported that 400,000 vehicles were affected by the lawsuit, VW admitted to installing 11 million vehicles with the illegal device, according to the website of the Driscoll Firm. Although the scandal has gone worldwide, many are unaware of how the scandal started.

Back in 2012, the International Council on Clean Transportation noticed discrepancies between Volkswagen’s diesel tests in Europe. In order to perform tests of their own, the council gave a $50,000 grant to a small group of researchers at West Virginia University. While the VW vehicles had passed official tests, the West Virginia research group reported up to a 35 times difference between the expected diesel emissions and their real-world findings while driving the vehicles. After the data became public, the California Air Resources Board and the Environmental Protection Agency began to investigate the matter. VW first reported the discrepancies were due to a technical issue and only admitted to their cheating after the EPA threatened to stop selling their clean diesel vehicles in 2016.

The Volkswagen diesel cheating scandal has drastically affected the company, with the CEO resigning and the company stocks plummeting 30 percent. The company potentially faces $18 billion in fines on top of the $7.3 billion it has already set aside to deal with the scandal, a figure that is larger than half of the company’s yearly profits. While the company has publicly apologized, the future of their clean diesel vehicles is unclear.

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