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DEQ Reaches Settlement With Volkswagen On Montana Air Quality Violation

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reached a settlement with Volkswagen (VW) for air quality penalties related to devices, known as “defeat devices,” that were designed to cheat emissions tests and were installed in a range of vehicle models—including VW Jetta, Audi A3 and Porsche Cayenne Diesel cars—from 2009-2016 before the cars were sold. The defeat devices allowed the vehicles to pass emissions tests, while they were actually producing emissions five to 40 times the federal emission limit for nitrogen oxides (NOx). After installing the devices pre-sale, Volkswagen also sent software upgrades that unknowing Montana car dealerships downloaded to cars during maintenance. The software updates made the defeat devices worse, by detecting when the steering wheel of a car moved—indicating that it was being used on the road rather than being tested—and then turning off the emissions controls when it was driven on the road. Montana owners of the vehicles were not aware of the devices in their vehicles or the subsequent software downloads that disabled the emission controls.

Volkswagen has agreed to pay DEQ a total of $357,280, or $280 per car for the 1,276 cars that were sold in Montana and that received the software update. This settlement is in addition to past state and federal settlements and criminal plea agreements with Volkswagen, which have funded projects throughout the state including transit buses and electric vehicle charging stations.

“DEQ takes our mission to champion a healthy environment seriously and through this settlement, Volkswagen is held accountable for violating Montana’s air quality laws,” said DEQ Director Chris Dorrington.

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