FTC Looking Into Volkswagen's 'Clean Diesel' Claims Now

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

The Federal Trade Commission will join the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency in investigating claims that Volkswagen cheated consumers and regulators with bogus emissions claims of its diesel cars, Politico reported (via Bloomberg).

The FTC’s inquiry will focus on whether the German automaker lied to consumers about “clean diesel” claims in its advertisements when, in fact, the cars were engineered to deceive emissions tests.

The FTC, Justice Department and EPA’s investigations also joins an investigation by the U.S. Senate Finance committee on whether the automaker illegally obtained $50 million in federal subsidies through car buyers who purchased its cars and received the lean-burn technology motor vehicle credit. In a letter to FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez, Sen. Bill Nelson wrote he was “outraged that VW would cheat its customers by deceiving them into buying a car that wasn’t what was advertised.”

Nelson is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

The FTC investigation has the authority to force Volkswagen to refund part or all of consumers’ purchases if the department determines that the automaker committed fraud.

The FTC inquiry could join 50 states attorneys general, hundreds of civil lawsuits and there’s a lot Volkswagen is going to have to answer for, is what we’re saying.

Join the conversation
5 of 34 comments
  • NeilM NeilM on Oct 15, 2015

    With all the multiple agency and country piling-on, VW is going to end up serving multiple life sentences – consecutively.

  • Driver8 Driver8 on Oct 15, 2015

    Lol. Imagine if regulators had gone after bad-acting banks with such aplomb.

    • Mitchw Mitchw on Oct 15, 2015

      So you're saying VW needs to start bribing the pols and dangling future jobs in front of the regulators. Just don't get caught this time.

  • Jpolicke Jpolicke on Oct 15, 2015

    Everything gets sold under implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for purpose. So by selling TDIs that did not meet spec VW is in breach of the implied warranty. But fraud? What was VW actually promising when they called it "clean diesel"? Clean is a generic word. I took it to imply they were no longer smoky, sooty, or smelly. Which they weren't. Does "clean" mean adherence to specific quantities of specific chemical compounds? I'm not defending VW for a cheat of epic proportions, but it seems like every agency in D.C. is trying to jump on and take their own personal swing at the pinata. If they find out that a TDI Jetta hit a deer somewhere, Fish & Wildlife will be chiming in.

  • Brandloyalty Brandloyalty on Oct 16, 2015

    It would have been one thing if VW had just been cheating on the emissions test. But the fact they were marketing theses cars on the basis of being "clean" when they knew the cars were not clean and knew they were cheating on the tests that showed the cars to be clean, is a powerful indictment. As has been mentioned, the damages go far beyond dirtier air and people owning devalued cars. The damage includes market share taken from other manufacturers. Unless they too have similar dirty laundry, they're sure to join the pile-on eventually. The only thing VW doesn't seem to have done is deny and cover up the accusation for very long.