ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Tuesday that his office will join investigations of Volkswagen following reports about how the automaker installed software in diesel-powered cars to cheat emissions tests.
Schneiderman said “no company should be allowed to evade our environmental laws or promise consumers a fake bill of goods.”
The federal Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board announced finding the violations on Friday, accusing VW of installing software that switches on pollution controls during smog tests and then switches them off so drivers can enjoy more engine power on the road.
Volkswagen AG on Tuesday stunningly admitted that 11 million of its diesel vehicles contain software that evades emissions controls, far more than the 482,000 identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as violating the Clean Air Act.
The cars, all built in the last seven years, include a device programmed to detect when they are undergoing official emissions testing, the EPA said, adding that the cars only turn on full emissions control systems during that testing. The controls are turned off during normal driving situations, the EPA said.
Schneiderman said his office “will seek to uphold New York’s strong tradition of consumer and environmental protections as this investigation proceeds.” It will collaborate with state attorneys general across the U.S.
The investigations are expected to involve parallel inquiries into potential violations of state consumer protection laws and possible violations of state environmental protection laws. Investigators are expected to examine Volkswagen’s claim that the cars are clean diesel.
U.S. diesel emissions limits, mainly for ozone-causing nitrogen oxide, are stricter than those in Europe.
Volkswagen chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn promised a company investigation as he apologized on Sunday, saying VW had broken the trust of customers and the public. He also pledged to cooperate with government investigations.
The EPA said Friday that VW faces potential fines of $37,500 per vehicle and that anyone found personally responsible is subject to $3,750 per violation.
The scandal has cost the German automaker more than $26 billion in market value.
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