Image source does not exist News Release: 2016-01-12 Air Resources Board rejects VW 2-liter diesel recall plan and issues Notice of Violation

Release #:16-01

ARB PIO: (916) 322-2990

Stanley Young

Dave Clegern

Air Resources Board rejects VW 2-liter diesel recall plan and issues Notice of Violation

Recall plan deemed incomplete; specific violations of California air quality laws detailed

SACRAMENTO - The California Air Resources Board (CARB) today notified Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. that it is rejecting VW’s submitted recall plan for 2-liter diesel passenger vehicles sold in California between 2009 and 2015. It also notified VW of violations of California air quality regulations associated with the company’s use of a “defeat device” in those cars. 

"Volkswagen made a decision to cheat on emissions tests and then tried to cover it up,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “They continued and compounded the lie and when they were caught they tried to deny it. The result is thousands of tons of nitrogen oxide that have harmed the health of Californians. They need to make it right. Today's action is a step in the direction of assuring that will happen."

CARB made public today three separate official documents related to its actions: A transmittal letter signed by Executive Officer Richard W. Corey; the rejection of VW’s submitted recall plan; and the formal Notice of Violation.  These documents and a Frequently Asked Questions document are posted here.

Today’s actions do not preclude a recall, but allow for a broader array of potential remedies. CARB will continue its investigation and technical evaluations with EPA to return the vehicles to legally required emission levels, determine mitigation for past and future environmental harm, and assess penalties.

Volkswagen officials admitted the existence of the defeat device to CARB and United States Environmental Protection Agency officials in early September. On September 18, 2015, CARB issued an In-use Compliance Letter to the company listing violations and giving them 45 business days to submit a proposal to recall and repair the affected vehicles. U.S. EPA issued a Notice of Violation to the company on the same day. The defeat devices were installed on VW’s 2.0L diesel vehicles manufactured for model year (MY) 2009 through MY 2015 to circumvent CARB and EPA emission test procedures. This made it possible for VW to obtain Executive Orders from CARB and Certificates of Conformity from EPA for these vehicles so the vehicles could be sold in California.  As a result, the certifications were illegally obtained.  The consequences of VW’s actions are significant and must be addressed expeditiously.

Recall Plan Rejection

The rejection of VW’s submitted recall plans details the specific areas that are required under California law in order for a recall plan to be formally approved. VW’s recall plan fell short in several areas, including:

This rejection only applies to VW’s diesel 2.0L vehicles, not 3.0L vehicles. The submission of the recall plan for 3.0L vehicles is due to CARB on February 2, 2016.

Notice of Violation

The NOV details 13 specific violations of California regulations, including failure to comply with the emission standards or test procedures; invalid certification applications; the use of Defeat Devices; the importation, delivery, purchase, acquisition, or receipt of uncertified vehicles; the sale of vehicles that do not meet emission standards; and failure to comply with onboard diagnostic (OBD) system requirements.

CARB will continue its investigation. The NOV may be supplemented or amended, as needed.

Environmental Harm

The defeat devices on VW’s diesel vehicles have caused substantial excess, illegal, and ongoing emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the vehicles.  NOx emissions in California are the most important contributor to ambient ozone and a key contributor to fine particulate matter pollution, which is associated with premature death, increased hospitalizations, emergency room visits due to exacerbation of chronic heart and lung diseases, and other serious health impacts.  California is home to both the highest ozone levels (South Coast) and ambient particulate matter levels (San Joaquin Valley) measured in the United States.  Twelve million Californians live in communities that exceed the federal ozone and particulate matter ambient air quality standards that were put in place to protect public health.  VW must mitigate the harm that these vehicles have already caused and continue to cause.   

ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.