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Small research group was first to notice Volkswagen fraud

Posted on Monday, September 28th, 2015   

Last week, one of the biggest scandals in automotive history became public after Volkswagen admitted to installing illegal software in their vehicles in order to cheat emission tests.  The scandal affects nearly 11 million vehicles worldwide, nearly 500,000 in the U.S. alone, and has raised 30 class action lawsuits against the company.  However, many are unaware of how this scandal came to light.

In 2012, in order to perform emission tests on clean diesel vehicles, a research group at West Virginia University received a $50,000 grant from the International Council on Clean Transportation.  When the research team started testing Volkswagen vehicles, the emissions levels were off by up to 35 times the expected amounts.  When the data was made public a year and a half ago, many began to raise questions, including the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

CARB and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began discussions with Volkswagen to uncover why there were such massive discrepancies, with VW first claiming technical issues were to blame.  Only after the EPA threatened to not approve VW’s clean diesel cars for sale in 2016 did the company finally admit to deliberate cheating.  As the scandal continues to develop, VW’s stock continues to plummet and the future of their clean diesel vehicles is unclear.

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