Dieselgate Widens As CARB Finds Second VW Emissions Defeat Switch
After weekend press reports that indicated Audi, Volkswagen’s luxury subsidiary, had installed a second emissions cheating device in some of its vehicles, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has promised a crackdown on carmakers that use special software to allow their vehicles to emit more tailpipe pollutants than allowed. An earlier TorqueNews story indicated the existence of another defeat device: Did Audi Really Install Another Defeat Device?
According to a Bloomberg report, CARB made its stand after press reports over the weekend that Audi had installed more cheatware on some vehicles. CARB said, in a statement that it will “aggressively pursue the investigation and require the manufacturer to correct the violations at its expense. Also, the manufacturer may be subject to penalties, as provided by law.”
Stanley Young, a spokesman for CARB, didn’t mention Audi in a statement. He indicated the board would have no comment on any ongoing investigation.
Gasoline Models Affected
According to Germany’s Bild newspaper, authorities have found that certain Audi gasoline and diesel models have software that tells engines to burn less fuel and emit less carbon dioxide when they are undergoing tests than when they are on the open road. The software acts in the same way the diesel defeat switch software worked when diesel emissions tests were detected. The diesel defeat switch led to the Dieselgate scandal.
Vehicles that had the second switch installed include the Audi A6 and A8 sedans and the Q5 crossovers. The agency reportedly ran its tests during the summer and found that the vehicles were equipped with automatic transmissions. Audi has stopped installing this software in new vehicles.
Meantime, an Audi spokesman declined to comment on the newspaper report, citing the talks it has been holding with authorities.
If the Bild report turns out to be true, it is a turning point in the ongoing emissions scandal that has engulfed Europe’s largest automaker for more than a year. The new twist in the scandal would involve not just NOx (oxides of nitrogen) emissions. NOx pollutants contribute to photochemical smog. Carbon dioxide emission adjustments would indicate they are playing with emissions that enable global warming.
The new charges come as Volkswagen continues its long slog to emerge from its self-inflicted emissions scandal. Known as Dieselgate, the scandal involves rigging 11 million vehicles worldwide to cheat on NOx emissions. Audi, Volkswagen’s biggest profit center, is considered critical to the automaker’s ongoing recovery. Audi did develop some of the engines involved in the original scandal.
This Is A First
John German, program director of the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), said there “has never been a case for a CO2 defeat device. This is the first time.” His group’s tests helped to expose the cheating.
CARB has been carefully checking both diesel and gasoline vehicles since the emissions scandal went public last year. The clean air agency expanded its testing to determine if defeat devices were more widely deployed than imagined. The key to the new device is the position of the steering wheel. If it is turned more than 15 degrees, the cleaner emissions are cut off.
Sources: Bild am Sonntag, Automotive News, Bloomberg