NPR says that on Tuesday, German carmaker Volkswagen acknowledged that 11 million of its diesel engine cars sold worldwide were equipped with software to cheat on emission tests. In a video statement, Martin Winterkorn, chief executive of VW, said the deception was the result of “the grave efforts of a very few” employees. Repercussions are just beginning: The EPA may impose fines of up to $18 billion, the Justice Department has reportedly opened a criminal probe, the company’s stock price has plummeted and its reputation, at this point, is in something of a free fall.
The legal issue is this: VW, through its marketers, dealers and salespeople, deceived consumers into purchasing certain requirements and that consumers purchasing those vehicles were harmed from these actions. The consumers who purchased those cars paid a premium for these diesel engines and are now left with vehicles that will do not meet air quality standards and whose potential fix may reduce the fuel economy and/or performance of the vehicle, as well as impacting negatively any future resale value.