WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday recalled 482,000 diesel-powered vehicles from Volkwagen and Audi, accusing the auto-makers of violating federal emission regulations.
The EPA's notice of violation said the company broke the law by installing "defeat device" software, in 4-cylinder Audis and Volkswagens. The software is capable of sensing when the vehicle is undergoing an emissions test and is able to fully optimize emissions control systems at that time.
When the vehicle is on the road under normal circumstances, the controls are turned off and the vehicle produces nitrogen oxide, which adds to ozone and smog creation far more heavily than manufacturers' say they do, the EPA said. It said the cars are safe to drive and owners need not take immediate action, but dealers are obliged to offer free repairs.
The pollutants are linked to increased asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Volkswagen and Audi may also face fines or other penalties.
The affected models are the diesel Volkswagen Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Passat, and the Audi A3, produced between 2009 and 2015.
"Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health," said Cynthia Giles of the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance. "Working closely with the California Air Resources Board, the EPA is committed to making sure that all automakers play by the same rules. EPA will continue to investigate these very serious violations."