Volkswagen finds itself in a snootful of trouble early this week. Last Friday, the EPA revealed that the company will be instructed to recall nearly 500,000 vehicles and face a potential $18 billion in fines. And VW shares plummeted by more than 20 percent eviscerating $16.9 billion of market value at European markets' close Monday after the company instructed US dealers to stop selling several 2015 diesel models.
All this hot water steams from US regulators' discovery that VW engine software was engineered to explicitly circumvent US Federal and State emissions laws. The clear purpose of the circumvention was to temporarily lower emissions when it detected that the vehicle was being emissions inspected. When disconnected from test equipment, the emissions circuit of the engine's controls was at least partially bypassed, enabling the car to perform better on the road. The situation is so problematic that German regulators are now probing Volkswagen for similar emissions fraud in its home market. And other government regulators like the Department of Health and Human Services may weigh in too, since the nitrogen oxide emissions elements involved in the findings are classified by many governments as health risks.
Perhaps most dire of all for VW, the US Department of Justice is now investigating Volkswagen's conduct in a criminal probe, according to Bloomberg. That's at least four US government agencies now potentially on the carmaker's tail.