EPA accuses Audi-VW of cheating on diesel emissions since 2009, demands recall
In a blow to the “clean diesel” marketing lobby, the New York Times reported today that Audi and Volkswagen have been cheating on diesel emissions controls since 2009. According to reports, Audi and VW models were equipped with a “defeat device” that would allow the diesel vehicles to run dirty most of the time and detect when emissions testing was underway. When it was, they would only then run as clean as required. The vehicles named in the EPA’s recall include the Golf, Jetta, Passat, Beatle, and Audi A3. Almost a half-million vehicles are being recalled from 2009 through 2015 models.
Cynthia Giles, the E.P.A.’s assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance, said, “Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health.” The New York Times reports that the pollutant that was being concealed was oxides of nitrogen. The pollutant is linked to respiratory diseases like asthma.
Diesel advocates claim many benefits of the fuel. Included in the claims are that the fuel offers lower emissions, lower petroleum consumption, and lower CO2 production. We have done multiple comparisons of diesel and gasoline powered cars, and also comparisons of diesel and hybrid cars, which came to the opposite conclusion. In our comparisons of popular, mainstream models that sell in the largest numbers, the diesel vehicles in the class use more petroleum and produce more CO2 than the best gasoline-powered vehicles. By comparison to hybrid gasoline engines diesels are dramatically lower in combined EPA fuel economy and have much higher emissions. Please note our list of related stories below.
Green comparison of 2015 BMW 535d to Lexus GS 450h shows diesel’s dead-end
Diesel vehicles blamed for polluting Paris air by authorities
Which to buy: 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI vs. Toyota Corolla LE Eco
Why can't the 2015 Mazda 6 diesel work in the US?
To see the official MPG numbers, CO2 per mile, or petroleum usage for any vehicle for sale in the US please see the EPA's site here. Start with "Find a Car." That tool helps you find your vehicle and then shows MPG ratings and also the cost for fuel (EPA updates that using national averages). Note that once you have a vehicle chosen there is a second tab called "Energy and the Environment" which shows CO2 per mile, barrels of petroleum per year consumed, and also the smog rating on a 1 to 10 scale.
Photo by John Goreham