The Obama Administration ordered Volkswagen to recall nearly 500,000 diesel-powered vehicles on Friday, accusing the car-maker of tricking emissions tests.
The Environmental Protection Agency said the company equipped its cars with software, called a “defeat device,” designed to detect when they were undergoing emissions testing. During that time, the device turned on full emissions control systems. After the test was over, the controls were turned off, allowing the cars to pollute up to 40 times the allowable levels.
“Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health,” said Cynthia Giles, an assistant administrator with the Environmental Protection Agency.
The recall covers 482,000 vehicles equipped with 4-cylinder diesel engines, including the VW Jetta, Beetle and Golf models sold during the 2009 to 2014 model-years, the Audi A3 sold during the same period, and the 2014-15 VW Passat.
The EPA, the State of California and the U.S. Justice Department are investigating the allegation. It’s not clear if further action could follow.
In a statement, the company said it “is cooperating with the investigation.”