During that time, the device turned on full emissions control systems. Those controls would turn off when in the normal driving mode in all situations and the vehicles would release more pollutants than reported by the manufacturer.
The EPA discovered the defeat device via independent research at West Virginia University.
On Friday, The Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen, and Audi.
The EPA said owners of the vehicles ordered for recall should receive notices from Volkswagen in the course of the next year.
Analysts have said that it was meant to be a message to all automakers that they will be treated harshly for compromising any federal rules. It is estimated that 482,000 diesel cars under the Volkswagen and Audi names are affected in the matter.
According to regulators, and the vehicles emit nitrogen oxides, under normal driving conditions, however, the emission controls fall away at at 10 to 40 times the legal limit.
As a result, the diesel cars emit greater-than-allowed quantities of pollution linked to smog and various health ills.
The software was installed in Volkwagen’s Golfs, Jettas and Beetles and Audi A3s beginning in the model year 2009, and in Volkswagen’s Passat models beginning in 2014.
Federal and state agencies will continue to investigate Volkswagen’s efforts to cheat on clean air rules, said Richard Corey, executive officer for the CRB. “California, the E.P.A. and the Justice Department are working together on an investigation of the allegations …” It was the largest civil penalty to date for that type of violation.
Volkswagen may have to recall those cars in the future as the EPA said “it is incumbent upon Volkswagen to initiate the process that will fix the cars’ emissions systems”. A USA representative for Volkswagen briefly told Reuters that the company was collaborating with the concerned authorities over the investigations adding that no further comments on the subject could be made at this time.