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Volkswagen is a German car manufacturer headquartered in Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony,

and Germany. Established in 1946, Volkswagen is the top-selling and namesake
marque of the Volkswagen Group, the holding company created in 1975 for the growing
company, and is now the second-largest automaker in the world.

How the emission scandal evolved?

On 18 September 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to German automaker Volkswagen
Group, after it was found that the car maker had intentionally programmed turbocharged
direct injection (TDI) diesel engines to activate certain emissions controls only during
laboratory emissions testing. The programming caused the vehicles' nitrogen
oxide (NOx) output to meet US standards during regulatory testing, but emit up to 40
times more NOxin real-world driving. Volkswagen put this programming in about eleven
million cars worldwide, and in 500,000 in the United States, during model years 2009
through 2015.

These findings stemmed from a study on emissions discrepancies between European

and US models of vehicles commissioned in 2014 by the International Council on Clean
Transportation (ICCT), summing up the data from three different sources on 15
vehicles. Among the research groups was a group of five scientists at West Virginia
University, who detected additional emissions during live road tests on two out of three
diesel cars. ICCT also purchased data from two other sources. They provided their
findings to the California (CARB) in May 2014.

Volkswagen became the target of regulatory investigations in multiple countries, [19] and
Volkswagen's stock price fell in value by a third in the days immediately after the news.
Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned, and the head of brand
development Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Audi research and development head Ulrich
Hackenberg, and Porsche research and development head Wolfgang Hatz were
suspended. Volkswagen announced plans to spend US$7.3 billion on rectifying the
emissions issues, and planned to refit the affected vehicles as part of a recall campaign.
The Volkswagen emissions scandal raised awareness over the higher levels of
pollution being emitted by all vehicles built by a wide range of car makers, which under
real world driving conditions are prone to exceed legal emission limits. A study
conducted by ICCT and ADAC showed biggest deviations from Volvo, Renault, Jeep,
Hyundai, Citron and Fiat. A discussion was sparked that software-controlled machinery
will generally be prone to cheating, and a way out would be to make the software
source code accessible to the public.

What does the defeat device do if it detects test conditions?

1. Speedometer, steering wheel sensors and air pressure sensors send data to
central computer

2. Computer recognizes that it is under test conditions and switches on a dyno

calibration, which alters the working of the engine to minimize emissions
3. If road, rather than rolling road, conditions are detected the computer uses a
road calibration, which bypasses the emissions reduction mechanisms to favor
engine performance and efficiency
4. The EPA says it was the NOx filter whose behavior was changing in the different

A peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Research Letters estimated that
approximately 59 premature deaths will be caused by the excess pollution produced
between 2008 and 2015 by vehicles equipped with the defeat device in the U.S., the
majority due to particulate pollution (87%) with the remainder due to ozone (13%). The
study also found that that making these vehicles emissions compliant by the end of
2016 would avert an additional 130 early deaths.
Earlier studies published in media sources, that had not been subjected to peer review,
provided point estimates ranging from approximately 10 to 350 excess deaths in the
U.S. related to the defeat devices based on varying assumptions .

Non-fatal health impacts

NO2 is a precursor to ground-level ozone and may cause respiratory problems
"including asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. Nitrogen oxides also amplify the effect
of fine particulate soot that causes heart problems, a form of air pollution estimated to
kill 50,000 in the United States annually.
A peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Pollution estimated that the
fraudulent emissions are associated with 45 thousand disability-adjusted life years
(DALYs) and a value of life loss of at least 39 billion US dollars.