Volkswagen targeted January as the start of its massive recall to bring 11 million faulty diesel vehicles to comply with emissions laws and late 2016 as the goal for its completion. But according to MIT, the damage is already done.
An MIT-led study reveals that the embattled automaker's emissions cheating scandal "will directly contribute to 60 premature deaths" across the United States. This comes after the Environmental Protection Agency reported last month, when VW's scandal broke, that its cheating would allow its vehicles to emit 40 times the amount of emissions than allowed by the Clean Air Act.
The MIT-led study, which also included researchers from Harvard University and was published in the Environmental Research Letters journal, says Volkswagen's defeat devices will have 60 people die 10 to 20 years prematurely in the U.S. In addition to the early deaths, the study estimated that the emissions scandal will lead to 31 cases of chronic bronchitis and 34 hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiac conditions.
The same study, though, says that if VW successfully recalls all affected vehicles by the end of next year — as the automaker vowed to do — upwards of 130 additional early deaths could be avoided. If it fails to do so, however, it could result in 140 additional early deaths.
MIT also projects that Volkswagen's emissions scandal will lead up to $450 million in health expenses, but if the recall is finished by the end of next year it could save the troubled automaker up to $840 million in further expenses.
"It seemed to be an important issue in which we could bring to bear impartial information to help quantify the human implications of the Volkswagen emissions issue," Steven Barrett, the lead author of the study at MIT, said. "The main motivation is to inform the public and inform the developing regulatory situation."