After a massive scandal that resulted in the suspension of several software engineers, Volkswagen Group is now facing a maximum fine of $18 billion for cheating emissions testing, according to Jalopnik. Emissions testing is currently required by The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) for all VW brand diesel vehicles in the United States and throughout Europe. The testing is done in a controlled environment, often leading to increased procedure costs if the vehicles do not meet emissions testing conditions. In the European Union, testing is even more rigorous, requiring oversight by a government-appointed approval agency in strict conditions.
In October 2015, Volkswagen Group recalled 8.5 million vehicles in the EU for containing banned emissions-cheating software. The software is able to detect when the vehicle is going through emissions testing and therefore reduces toxic emissions during that period. Four weeks after Volkswagen publicly admitted to rigging U.S. emissions tests, Volkswagen Group's longtime CEO resigned and the automaker's stock market value fell by 30%. The scandal is expected to have a worldwide effect on the auto industry and even the environment. The recall has allowed 11 million cars worldwide to produce up to 40 times the smog-forming pollution allowed in the United States, according to The Detroit News.
The home country of the automaker, Germany, Italy, and the United States are currently investigating Volkswagen managers and engineers for alleged fraud. Volkswagen Group also owns several other auto brands, including Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley, Bugatti, Ducati, and more. It is currently unknown whether the emissions software is present in other vehicles besides VW, although several auto companies such as BMW and Renault-Nissan have said that they do not and have never used the "defeat devices" in their vehicles.
Volkswagen Group currently faces 34 federal lawsuits from U.S. citizens claiming their cars are less valuable due to the emission testing scandal. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced his office's plans to launch a criminal investigation. A federal probe is also likely.