Volkswagen Is Far From the First Automaker to Cheat on E.P.A. Tests

Volkswagen’s admission that it used defeat device software to evade E.P.A. emissions tests marks the latest in a long history of automakers deceiving regulators and manipulating vehicles to get around strict regulatory standards. In 1972, Ford was fined $7 million for performing constant maintenance on its test vehicles, preventing measurement of emissions under realistic conditions. The following year, Volkswagen was fined $120,000 for installing devices that shut down vehicles’ pollution control systems. Chrysler was forced to recall nearly one million cars in 1974 for installing similar devices in its radiators.

I don’t see them changing this behavior unless criminal penalties are enacted into law that allow the prosecutor to put the executives in jail,

said former E.P.A. administrator Joan Claybrook.

Such “defeat devices” have grown in both use and sophistication over the years despite an E.P.A. prohibition. Volkswagen’s defeat device software senses when the car is being tested and optimizes the car’s functioning to give better emissions readings than it would under realistic circumstances. Similar devices were also found in General Motors cars and a variety long-hail truck engines in the 1990s.

Read more here – “Volkswagen Test Rigging Follows Long Auto Industry Pattern,” (Danny Hakim and Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times).

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