Nearly $51 million in federal incentives were handed out to Volkswagen Group TDI buyers for purchasing the “clean diesel” vehicles, however now that it has surfaced that VW diesel cars may not be so clean after all, those incentives may have been for nothing.
On Friday it emerged that Volkswagen found a way to manipulate U.S. emissions laws by fitting its 2.0-liter TDI passenger cars with a ‘defeat device’. The device recognizes when the car is undergoing emissions tests, self adjusts the engine settings to reduce emissions, and then reverts back to the old settings when it’s back on the road.
In 2009, the 39,500 buyers of those TDI vehicles were eligible to collect a $1,300 tax credit from Federal Government for purchasing an economic vehicle, The LA Times reports. If every owner collected the incentive, that means more than $51 million in taxpayer money was handed out to owners that had been duped by VW.
“It is really unfortunate,” Luke Tonachel, director of clean vehicles and fuels at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the LA Times. “The government has been effective to help advance clean technologies, but it is a waste of taxpayer dollars when they aren’t actually helping to clean the environment.”
Tonachel hopes the government factors in the $51 million in incentives when deciding how much to fine VW for their Clean Air Act violations. VW’s 3.0-liter TDI V6 engine is now also under investigation for the same reason as the four-cylinder engines, which could further add to the fines it will face.