EPA: Volkswagen and Audi 'clean diesels' are an even bigger scam than we thought

Despite cheap gas, unsold Hyundais fill a dealer's lot near the ShopRite in Paramus, N.J., above and below. The dealer also has started renting spaces in another lot under the supermarket for more unsold cars.

In November 2014, Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia agreed to pay a combined $300 million as part of a settlement for overstating vehicle fuel-economy standards on 1.2 million cars -- in what is the largest penalty ever for a violation of the Clean Air Act. No fines have been announced in the new case against Volkswagen.


Now, here is really shocking car news:

Volkswagen, the German auto-making giant, deliberately installed software designed to conceal its diesel engine's emission of the pollutant nitrogen oxide, which contributes to the creation of ozone and smog.

"The pollutants are linked to a range of health problems, including asthma attacks, other respiratory diseases and premature death," according to The New York Times.

On Friday, the Obama administration ordered VW to recall nearly a half-million cars, "saying the automaker illegally installed software in its diesel-powered cars to evade standards for reducing smog."

The recall involves 4-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi vehicles from model years 2009-15.

The Environmental Protection Agency says the car maker admitted installing software that turned off the engines' full emissions-control systems during normal driving.

That allows "the cars to spew as much as 40 times as much pollution as allowed under the Clean Air Act," The Times reported. 

Disengaging the controls can yield better performance in a normally sluggish diesel engine, "including increased torque and acceleration."

The software turned on full controls only when it detected "the car is undergoing its periodic state emissions testing," the newspaper said.

Dog and pony show

In March, Volkswagen executive Marcel Zirwes spoke to writers, public relations people and industry members of the International Motor Press Association in Manhattan.

After cocktails and a lunch of farmed salmon and oysters on the half shell, paid for by Bosch, members heard thousands of words praising a new generation of so-called clean diesel engines.

But none of the executives who spoke claimed "clean diesel" technology was better for the environment than such gas-electric hybrids as the Toyota Prius.

And they said the appeal of diesels over hybrids is that the former is more profitable to automakers while yielding comparable mileage.


Free lunch, hard sell on 'clean diesel'

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