Less than a week after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a Notice of Violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen, alleging five of the automaker’s diesel-powered vehicles include “defeat device” software that circumvent emissions standards, Environment Canada joined the field.

Environment Canada announced on Tuesday it is opening an investigation into VW’s alleged use of the aforementioned software that has launched the emission-cheating scandal that has made top headlines since late last week.

This news comes on the heels of Volkswagen Canada issuing a stop-sale for impacted diesel-powered vehicles on Monday. And yesterday, the story took another turn: Martin Winterkorn stepped down from the position of chief executive officer at the Volkswagen Auto Group.

Initially, the EPA was only calling for a recall of 500,000 of the automaker’s diesel models, which include some of its most popular cars, such as the Jetta, Golf and Beetle.

But VW released a statement Tuesday morning noting the defeat device software actually is installed in some 11 million vehicles worldwide, explaining though, that for the “majority of these engines the software does not have any effect.”

Environment Canada estimates that approximately 100,000 VW and Audi four-cylinder diesel cars of the impacted model years — 2009 to 2015 — were sold in Canada.

The organization made sure to point out in its statement that while car owners should know what the alleged defeat device cuts down on the effectiveness or the vehicle’s air pollutant control systems, it is not a safety issue. This fact makes this investigation different from recent recall crisis, such as the General Motors ignition switch recalls and the more recent Takata airbag issues.  

Environment Canada said in a statement this week, "The Government of Canada has implemented stringent emissions standards to address air pollutants from new cars sold in Canada to help ensure clean air for Canadians in alignment with the U.S. EPA's standards. 

"With aligned emission standards, Environment Canada works closely with the U.S. EPA to ensure our common environmental outcomes are achieved. Upon becoming aware of this issue, Environment Canada acted quickly to examine potential implications for Canada and is in communications with its U.S. EPA counterparts and representatives of Volkswagen Group Canada Inc.,” the statement continued.

The organization stated that after careful assessment of the facts surrounding the case, Environment Canada decided to open an investigation, which will involve, gathering, from a variety of sources, evidence and information relevant to a suspected violation.

"Canadian legislation and regulations prohibit vehicle manufacturers and importers from equipping a vehicle with a defeat device. If officers uncover sufficient evidence of violations, enforcement action will be taken in accordance with the Compliance and Enforcement Policy for the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA, 1999),” the statement went on to say.

It concluded by mentioning that since the investigation is ongoing, “it would be inappropriate to provide further information at this time.”

Specifically, in Canada, the Volkswagen brand affected diesel models include:

  • The VW Jetta — from 2009-2015
  • The VW Golf — from 2010-2015
  • The VW Beetle — from 2013-2015
  • The VW Passat — from 2012-2015
  • The VW Golf Wagon/Sportwagon — from 2009-2015

The initial charges from the EPA also included the Audi A3 (model years 2009-2015).