New Jersey is suing Volkswagen over what it said was a "massive" fraud — after the company allegedly sold diesel vehicles  with software that deactivated on-board emission controls except during emissions testing.

“For the past decade Volkswagen engaged in one of the largest frauds in the history of the automobile industry,” New Jersey says in the lawsuit “It developed and distributed into the marketplace sophisticated software to evade emissions requirements, it misled regulators about the true environmental impact of its vehicles, and it misled consumers about the products that it was marketing as supposedly good for the environment.”

It alleges Volkswagen “profited greatly” from its effort, starting in 2005, to develop and deceptive promote diesel vehicles that only appeared to be environmentally friendly. It says the deception was made "at the expense of the unsuspecting public" as its market share and vehicle purchase prices grew

“Our lawsuit alleges that Volkswagen put profit ahead of honesty, integrity, fair business practices and – most disturbing of all – the well-being of people living and breathing the air here in New Jersey and across the country,” acting Attorney General John Hoffman said in a statement announcing the suit. “Like any other business – large or small – auto makers have an obligation to represent the products they sell honestly, and to ensure those products comply with all applicable laws. When they fail to do so, as we allege was the case with Volkswagen, we will hold them accountable.”

The cars described in the suit include the following 2.0 liter diesel vehicles: Jetta (2009-2015), Jetta Sportswagen (2009-2014), Beetle (2012-2015), Beetle Convertible (2012-2015), Golf (2010-2015), Golf Sportswagen (2010-2015), Passat (2012-2015) and Audi A3 (2010-2015.)

It also describes the following 3.0 liter diesel models: Volkswagen Touareg (2009-2016), Porsche Cayenne (2013-2016), Audi A6 Quattro (2014-2016), Audi 7 Quattro (2014-2016), Audi A7 Quattro (2014-2016), Audi A8 (2014-2016), Audi A8L (2014-2016), Audi Q5 (2014-2016) and Audi Q7 (2009-2016).

Volkswagen has admitted to using the so-called "defeat device" on about 11 million 2-liter vehicles worldwide, but denies Environmental Protection Agency allegations it also did so on about 10,000 3-liter vehicles.

According to the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, of the roughly 580,000 vehicles equipped with the defeat software in the United States, about 17,420 were registered in New Jersey.

The suit looks to also hold Volkswagen responsible for the air pollution from vehicles claimed to be more emissions-friendly than they were, and alleges  Volkswagen harmed buyers by misleading them into thinking they were getting cleaner-operating, better performing cars than they actually were.

And it says consumers face additional harm, having to bring their cars into compliance with modern emissions standards, and losing resale value on cars known to be associated with the scandal.

In addition to fines and penalties, the suit seeks restitution for New Jersey residents harmed by Volkswagen's conduct.

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