Canada Threatens Action Against Volkswagen If Rules Violated

The Canadian government is pledging unspecified “enforcement action” if Volkswagen cars sold in the country used pollution-masking technology.

The company, which is growing in Canada and holds a 3.9 percent market share, is now under investigation by Environment Canada, department spokesman Mark Johnson said. The agency is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the company to investigate claims the automaker used so-called “defeat device” technology to mask vehicle emissions.

“Defeat devices are prohibited under Canadian regulations. If violations to Canadian regulations are found, enforcement action will be taken,” Johnson said in an e-mail Tuesday.

Volkswagen had a record month in Canada in August, the company said, and its sales were up 5.6 percent from the same month a year earlier, data from Desrosiers Automotive show. Volkswagen is the eighth-ranked vehicle retailer by sales volume, with 50,418 units sold so far in 2015, 12.6 percent ahead of its pace in 2014. It does not operate an assembly plant in Canada.

Canada aligns its emissions standards for new cars with the U.S., Johnson said. The investigation is ongoing and “it would be inappropriate to comment further,” he said. “Car owners should know that the effectiveness of a vehicle’s air pollutant control devices is not a safety issue.”

The country’s Environmental Protection Act allows major corporations to be fined up to C$6 million ($4.5 million) for a first offense, and up to C$12 million for subsequent offenses.

Environment Canada “acted quickly to examine potential implications” after learning of the issue, Johnson said.

Requests for comment from Volkswagen Canada weren’t immediately returned Tuesday.