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​Fool me once: EPA to enhance emissions testing post VW scandal

US Environmental Protection Agency will use random spot checks to expose technologies that may allow cars to skirt emissions standards.

US Environmental Protection Agency

With its stock prices plummeting, federal fines looming and a changing of the guard, this has been a rough week for the Volkswagen Group. The German automaker this week admitted that 11 million of its diesel cars sold globally are outfitted with software that skirts emissions regulations. But VW was the only one burned by the scandal.

The hullabaloo also exposed flaws and gaps in the US Environmental Protection Agency's emissions testing practices that allowed Volkswagen to sell some 482,000 emissions skirting vehicles in the US over the course of seven years. The agency on Friday said it's closing some of those gaps by adding real-world testing for all automakers.

In an open letter to all automakers, the EPA stated:

"Per the regulations of 40 CFR §86.1809, EPA may test or require testing on any vehicle at a designated location, using driving cycles and conditions that may reasonably be expected to be encountered in normal operation and use, for the purposes of investigating a potential defeat device. Such testing can be expected in addition to the standard emissions test cycles when Emissions Data Vehicles (EDV), and Fuel Economy Data Vehicles (FEDV) are tested by EPA."

TL;DR? The agency is using random spot checks of production cars to make sure that automakers are being honest and to detect any other rule-breaking technology, like VW's sneaky emissions software that tested clean in a lab but ran dirtier in real-world conditions.

The EPA isn't alone in its toughening of testing practices. Reuters points out a tweet posted Thursday by Italian Transport Minister Graziano Delrio stating there will be 1,000 sample checks for all automakers selling vehicles in Italy. Regulators worldwide are miffed in the wake of the admission that 11 million Volkswagen Group autos, which includes Audi, Porsche and other brands, contain the software. They're putting all automakers under the microscope to make sure they aren't burned again.