Following the government investigation of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions, The Detroit News reports the automaker ordered its U.S. dealerships to halt sales of new 2016 and remaining 2015 TDI car models with 2.0-liter diesel engines.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board, VW dodged federal emissions requirements for some 482,000 of its diesel cars — including the Passat, Jetta, Golf, Beetle, SportWagens and Audi A3 — manufactured from 2009 to 2015. The models contain a “defeat device” which exists to detect when the car is under testing conditions, allowing for it to activate the full emissions-control systems only in those circumstances.

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In other words, environmental officials say that the street cars are emitting between 10 and 40 times the amount of allowable nitrogen oxide pollution, which is not only illegal but harmful to both the environment and public.

The EPA is taking action on 2016 diesel models. Christopher Grundler, director of the EPA Office of Transportation of Air Quality, said that the government will not grant VW a “certificate of conformity” to sell the 2016 models with 2.0-liter diesel engines, meaning they cannot be sold.

VW dealers have been waiting for the 2016 models to replenish showrooms. Most U.S. VW dealers don’t have any remaining 2015 diesel cars to sell.

VW is barred from selling 2016 model vehicles with the 2.0 liter diesel engine until “they get answers to the questions of how these vehicles are being operated. Volkswagen couldn’t explain why we’re getting these excess emissions,” Grundler said.

Meanwhile, whatever 2015 models remain on lots have also been ordered not to be sold. As Automotive News notes, four-cylinder TDI models account for 20 to 25 percent of VW’s U.S. sales, so this is going to hurt.

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In addition, VW has ordered an outside investigation to find out what happened and “reverse the damage this has caused,” CEO Martin Winterkorn said in an apologetic statement.

According to the EPA, the agency is now checking to see if other automakers are bypassing the laws on diesel engines as well.

While no official recall is underway just yet, the News reports:

EPA said VW violated federal law and, in theory, could face fines of up to $18 billion — $37,500 per vehicle — as well as criminal prosecution. Both agencies issued notices of non-compliance to VW Friday, a step necessary before ordering a recall.

The EPA will not take action to stop VW owners from driving their personal cars until a solution is made available, but VW did remove its “clean diesel” advertisements from YouTube and television.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Jens Meyer


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