EPA to tighten emissions tests, but fixes should be easy

Unless you're driving an older vehicle, fixes for vehicles that require repair to reduct emissions should be relatively easy. That's what the United States Environmental Agency (EPA) suggests in a new set of documents released in the wake of recent violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) by Volkswagen. Technical changes to Volkswagen diesel vehicles from 2015 and 2016 model years should be easy, while more "substantial" changes may be required for vehicles from the past several years. In most or all cases, repair costs will be charged to the manufacturer, not the driver.

According to the EPA, their notice of violation (NOV) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) was issued to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. on the 18th of September, 2015. This notice does not immediately require that any vehicles be recalled – but as you may have noticed over the past week, it's having a deep impact on Volkswagen and the car industry as a whole, as well.

The EPA's NOV page for VW suggests that if the EPA does, indeed, compel VW to recall any or all of their vehicles in violation of the CAA, it could take up to a year to identify actions that need to be taken, develop a plan to recall vehicles, and issue recall notices therein.

Meanwhile the EPA is sending letters to manufacturers this week suggesting that they will be tightening regulations. In a letter (like you see above), manufacturers are informed that new testing may be required of vehicles in addition to the standard emissions test cycles.

These tests could be run on vehicles when Emissions Data Vehicles (EDV), and Fuel Economy Data Vehicles (FEDV) are normally tested by EPA. New tests will use driving cycles and conditions "that may reasonably be expected to be encountered in normal operation and use."

These tests may be executed specifically "for the purposes of investigating a potential defeat device."

A "defeat device" is exactly what Volkswagen is in trouble for – cheating on the test that watches the level of harmful emissions vehicles release.

Now we see how the rest of the auto industry reacts, before or after they're tested more stringently than ever before.