May 15 (UPI) -- The Environmental Protection Agency could do more to detect when automakers are attempting to cheat emissions testing, as Volkswagen did for years, the agency's inspector general said Tuesday.
The watchdog said the EPA's testing software at the time of the 2015 VW scandal was easily fooled. Federal regulators forced VW to recall thousands of vehicles that had so-called defeat devices installed on them. The software is capable of sensing when a vehicle is undergoing an emissions test and is able to fully optimize emissions control systems at that time.
About 500,000 vehicles in the United States and 11 million worldwide had the defeat device. Six VW executives have been indicted for the scandal -- including, most recently former CEO Martin Winterkorn -- and the company has been fined $4.3 billion in various fines and settlements.
The trickery was detected by researchers at West Virginia University's Center for Alternative Fuels Engines and Emissions, not the EPA.
But the EPA has improved its car emissions testing since the VW scandal, the inspector general said in its report.
"The EPA has effectively used special testing to detect noncompliance by other manufacturers," the report said.
The audit recommended the EPA institute better internal controls on testing and that federal regulators share information with California's Air Resources Board.