PhotoNot too many years ago, everyone assumed that diesel engines poured out more harmful pollutants than gas-powered cars. Then, along came the supposed "clean diesel" that automakers assured us was cleaner, more efficient, etc.

Those promises are sounding a bit hollow these days, now that Volkswagen has agreed to pay billions for using illegal software to skate through emission tests and other automakers are facing challenges to their claims.

The latest automaker facing scrutiny is General Motors, accused in a class action lawsuit of using so-called "defeat devices" in its trucks. The suit was filed today on behalf of more than 705,000 owners of 2011 to 2016 GM Duramax diesel trucks, according to a Bloomberg report

The suit claims the trucks emit two to five times the legal limit of pollutants when being driven normally. When being tested, the alleged defeat device kicks in, allowing the trucks to pass emission exams, the suit claims.

Fiat Chrysler is facing similar charges in a lawsuit filed earlier this week by the U.S. Justice Department. Other automakers are being investigated in Europe and elsewhere. GM had no immediate comment.

Still behind bars

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Oliver Schmidt (SAE Photo)

A former Volkswagen executive, meanwhile, remains in prison awaiting trial on charges that he helped engineer the Volkswagen emissions fraud conspiracy.

The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Wednesday affirmed a district judge's order keeping Oliver Schmidt behind bars in Michigan amid concerns he would flee the country if released on a $1.6 million bond.

Schmidt, a German citizen, formerly headed headed Volkswagen's environment and engineering office in Auburn Hills, Mich. He was arrested in January at Miami International Airport. Other German executives have fled the U.S. and prosecutors have argued that Schmidt should remain in prison because he represents an extreme flight risk. He faces up to 169 years in prison.


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