VW “Dieselgate” Scandal: An Update for Students Taking Automotive Courses

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In one of the biggest automotive scandals in recent years, Volkswagen officials have confessed to installing a “defeat device” in half a million of their diesel vehicles. The device was designed to recognize when the cars were undergoing official emissions tests and boost the test results.

The German carmaker was issued a notice of violation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), because its software violated two provisions of the Clean Air Act. The cars consisting of these devices were emitting up to 40 times more than the allowable level of certain pollutants.

If you’re pursuing an auto career, read on to learn more about the Volkswagen “Dieselgate” scandal.

A Brief Description of the Scandal for Students Pursuing Auto Careers

Federal officials made it clear that the scandal poses no threat to motorists, but they’ve ordered Volkswagen to recall approximately 482,000 of its vehicles that were sold in the U.S. over the past seven years.

Models involved in the “Dieselgate” scandal include Jetta, Golf, Beetle and Audi A3 cars manufactured between 2009 and 2015, as well as Passat vehicles built in 2014 and 2015.

The “defeat devices” installed in VW’s vehicles were only activated during emissions testing. And of course, this greatly reduced the effectiveness of the cars’ emissions controls during normal driving.

The automaker readily admitted that its cars contained the devices. Volkswagen’s CEO Martin Winterkorn offered a heartfelt apology. “I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public,” he said. “We will cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency, to clearly, openly and completely establish all of the facts of this case.” Following his apology, Winterkorn announced his resignation from the company.

Since using a defeat device to dodge clean air standards is illegal as well as a threat to public health, Volkswagen faces an extremely hefty fine. Last year, the EPA fined Hyundai and Kia $300 million for exaggerating the fuel-economy in several of their models and in comparison, experts are saying that Volkswagen will likely be fined several billions.

How will the VW Scandal Affect Auto Careers in North America?

Volkswagen had hoped to increase sales of its “clean diesel” cars in Canada and the U.S., but the recent scandal has affected those plans. Canadian car dealers expect that the company’s involvement in the scandal will drastically hurt its sales. However, some professionals in auto careers know that Volkswagen is already seeking ways to fix the issue.

Volkswagen will eventually issue a recall in order to fix the emissions systems in the affected North American vehicles. Anyone pursuing a car repair career knows that this type of repair will involve locating and removing the defeat device. However, doing so may reduce a car’s engine power or perhaps increase its fuel consumption.

In order to keep its customers satisfied during the recall, Volkswagen will likely need to consider providing compensation to vehicle owners to make up for any decrease in performance that might occur.

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