Class actions suits may recover some of that, but it’s not likely.
German automaker Volkswagen AG admits that it rigged North American emissions tests so it would appear that its diesel-powered cars were emitting fewer nitrogen oxides, which can contribute to ozone buildup and respiratory illness.
The crisis widened on September 22, 2015 as the company made the stunning admission that 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide were fitted with same cheating software.
Here are some questions and answers about the ongoing crisis:
WHICH VEHICLES DOES THIS AFFECT? Vehicles worldwide with Type EA 189 diesel engines. In the U.S., VW installed software in roughly 482,000 diesel passenger cars sold in the U.S. since 2008, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The software turned on the cars’ full emissions control systems when the cars were being tested by the government, and then turned off those systems during normal driving. The Jetta, Beetle, Audi A3 and Golf from the 2009-2015 model years, as well as the Passat from the 2014-2015 model years. All have with 2-Liter, four-cylinder diesel engines. Volkswagen has halted the sale of 2015 models and is prohibited from selling 2016 models until they are fixed.
WHAT DOES VOLKSWAGEN SAY? Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn issued a statement Sunday saying that the company will fully co-operate with government investigations and has ordered an internal probe. Winterkorn said, “I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public.” The company said Tuesday it would set aside around 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) to cover the cost from the scandal.
WHY WOULD VOLKSWAGEN CHEAT ON EMISSIONS TESTS? Experts think VW may have wanted to avoid the cost of additional hardware to meet tough U.S. emissions standards, so it came up with a cheaper software fix. The software also would have helped the cars’ fuel economy numbers, since they get better gas mileage when the emissions control system is turned off.
WHAT SHOULD CUSTOMERS DO? Volkswagen will fix the cars for free as soon as it develops a remedy. Owners will be notified when there’s a fix. In the meantime, the cars are safe to drive. Car buying site Edmunds.com cautions owners against selling the cars right now if they don’t have to, since they can expect a lower trade-in value.
DOES THIS AFFECT OTHER DIESEL VEHICLES IN NORTH AMERICA? Not so far. Thirteen brands currently offer diesels in North America., including Ram, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. West Virginia University, which conducted the tests that led to the discovery of Volkswagen’s software, said the BMW it tested passed.
WHAT’S NEXT? The U.S. government could fine Volkswagen $37,500 per vehicle for the violations, a total of more than $18 billion. The U.S. Justice Department, the California Air Resources Board and German authorities are also investigating. Winterkorn could also face scrutiny from Volkswagen’s board, which will meet as early as Wednesday. Investors have spoken. During the past two days, VW stock price has fallen more than 35 per cent.
SAAQ says changes will make it more difficult to illegally reproduce the cards
Quebec’s automobile insurance board has unveiled a new design for drivers’ licences in the province aimed at making the cards more difficult to illegally replicate.
The driver photo will be black and white, which the SAAQ says will be higher resolution than its previous colour photos.
“The photo in black and white will have more information and more defined facial features,” said Mario Vaillancourt, a spokesman for the insurance board.
Other new features include:
- the licence holder’s personal information is engraved by laser on a polycarbonate card.
- it has additional or improved security features, some of which are tactile or visual.
The new licences are expected to last longer. Each card will be valid for eight years.
The first ones were mailed to Quebec drivers on Tuesday.
Old licences remain valid until their expiration date.
‘If cars are better—and they clearly are—drivers must be worse.’
Ross McLaughlin and Sandra Hermiston , CTV News
The auto industry has had a record number of recalls in 2014, including 41 million Takata airbags recalled due to the hazard of exploding shrapnel and hundreds of thousands of GM faulty ignition switches, linked to more than 100 deaths.
Car dealers are heavily regulated and are not allowed to sell a vehicle with an open safety recall, but as the McLaughlin on Your Side team discovered, the same rules don’t apply to rental cars, and that could impact the safety status of the cars you rent.
Consumer reporter Ross McLaughlin roamed rental car parking lots around Richmond and Vancouver, taking photos of vehicle identification numbers and licence plates. When the information was then run through CARFAX and manufacturers’ websites, several safety recalls appeared, with defects that could increase the risk of a crash.
Follow-up calls to the manufacturer of the vehicle confirmed the safety issues of the cars he found on the lot.
“If it doesn’t turn off like you expect it to and someone were to put it into shift out of park, it could move unintentionally,” said a Ford Canada customer service representative.
A Ford Escape being rented by Avis showed two open recalls: one for an ignition problem that could inadvertently leave the engine running when turned off, resulting in “unintended vehicle movement” and another for the instrument warning systems, meaning warning systems may not work, “increasing the risk of a crash.”
In an email to CTV Vancouver, Transport Canada said “these recalls address either a defect or a non-compliance condition that affects or is likely to affect safety.”
It wasn’t just the Avis rental vehicle that showed a problem. When the McLaughlin on Your Side team ran the licence plate and VIN on another 2015 Ford Escape at Budget, it also had the recall defect that could leave the engine running.
It too was rented out shortly after McLaughlin discovered the recall.
Budget still had dozens of Ford Escapes with the potentially hazardous open recall until CTV News got involved.
The Budget at the Vancouver International Airport is an independently owned and operated franchise of the Avis Budget Group. The head of customer service there said they were alerted to the problem after the McLaughlin team started asking Avis questions.
Budget pulled 40 Ford Escapes in the Vancouver area to be fixed, a repair that takes about an hour.
As for the vehicle Avis was renting, an employee at the YVR rental office said vehicles with safety recalls are removed from the fleet. The company’s head office confirmed that.
In an email to CTV News,Avis stated that when there is a recall it identifies the affected vehicles in its fleet and places them “on a ‘hard hold’ in the reservations system,” meaning they are not rented out until fixed.
It also said the safety problem involving the ignition on this Escape was fixed in early August. When McLaughlin followed up with Ford Canada on the phone it confirmed the recall had been posted as completed the day after CTV brought it to the attention of Avis.
Ford Canada told us it’s possible there could have been a delay from the dealer reporting the repair. However, McLaughlin confirmed the other safety issue involving the warning systems was still an open recall. But Avis told CTV News it will wait until it gets a notice from the manufacturer before taking it off the line.
For more recall information or to check a vehicle online visit Transport Canada’s recall page.