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GM lays off Bengaluru man who exposed VW emissions fraud

Hemanth Kappanna, who was part of a team that uncovered Volkswagen's Dieselgate emission scandal, has been laid off by General Motors, where he was involved in communicating with the Environmental Protection Agency about the carmaker’s emissions technology. Hemanth, who is from Bengaluru, is one among 4,000 employees who were laid off. As part of his severance package, he received two months' pay and a one-way ticket to India.

Kappanna, along with Marc Besch from Switzerland and Arvind Thiruvengadam from India, was chosen to test the emissions of Volkswagen's diesel cars while he was studying at the West Virginia University. While the standard practice was to test emissions in specially equipped garages, the team found a way to test the emissions from a moving vehicle. Their test results showed that the emissions produced did not match the company's claims. The findings were presented in a conference of emission experts and were brought to the attention of the California Air Resources Board and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which began an investigation. A year and half later, Volkswagen admitted to using a defeat device in its cars.

Volkswagen has had to pay billions of dollars in fines and the scandal has also had an impact on the industry. The EPA has launched investigations against other companies over emission readings and the sales of diesel cars have plummeted. In March 2019, diesel cars accounted for 31% of the total cars sold in Europe, the lowest since 2000.

Source: The New York Times

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