Nearly 3,000 registered vehicles registered in Vermont are potentially outfitted with a “defeat device” Volkswagen admitted to installing in cars to deceive emissions inspectors.
Attorney General Bill Sorrell launched an investigation into the issue Thursday, according to an announcement from his office.
Information released by the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles shows that there are 2,852 Volkswagens and 54 Audis registered as having four-cylinder diesel engines with model years 2009 to 2015.
Captain Jake Elovirta of the Department of Motor Vehicles Enforcement and Safety Division said Wednesday that officials at DMV, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Attorney General’s office are working together to decide how the state should handle the vehicles.
The Department of Environmental Conservation sets the state’s air quality regulations.
Attorney General Bill Sorrell announced Thursday afternoon that his office is launching an investigation into the company's practices.
“Volkswagen should be held accountable for any evasion of environmental laws and emissions standards, deception of consumers, and violation of the public trust,” Sorrell said in a release announcing the investigation.
The release said the Agency of Natural Resources, which regulates air pollution in the state, is working jointly in the investigation.
A private class-action lawsuit filed in federal court earlier this week seeks damages from Volkswagen for misleading consumers into purchasing vehicles they believed to be less environmentally harmful than they actually are.
The suit estimated that thousands of Vermonters may be eligible to join the class. The data from DMV shows that there are 2,906 vehicles registered in Vermont that may have the company’s defeat device in them.
Vermont regulators haven’t yet decided how to handle the vehicles involved. Some of Vermont’s emissions regulations are based on those in California, and according to Consumer Reports, owners in that state may not be allowed to register or re-register their vehicles until the emissions issue is fixed.
Disclosures: Downs Rachlin Martin is a VPR underwriter and the lead plaintiff is the husband of VPR President Robin Turnau.