Volkswagen could be in some very big trouble.

According to the EPA, the German car manufacturer installed a device in nearly a half million Volkswagen and Audi vehicles that circumvented emissions control laws. The Obama administration has ordered Volkswagen to fix these vehicles, although they have yet to require a formal recall. The company could be forced to pay civil penalties of $37,500 per vehicle.

The New York Times reports:

The device is programmed to detect when the car is undergoing official emissions testing, and to only turn on full emissions control systems during that testing. Those controls are turned off during normal driving situations, when the vehicles pollute far more heavily than reported by the manufacturer, the E.P.A. said.

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“Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health,” said Cynthia Giles, the E.P.A.’s assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance. “Working closely with the California Air Resources Board, E.P.A. is committed to making sure that all automakers play by the same rules. E.P.A. will continue to investigate these very serious violations.”

Devious, right?! We expected more from that company that brought us Herbie.

Affected models include the 2009-15 Volkswagen Jetta, 2009–15 Beetle, 2009–15 Golf, 2014-15 Passat and 2009-15 Audi A3.

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