Gasoline Defeat Devices Were Reportedly Used By Audi As Dieselgate Continues Growing
Marc Stern's picture

New Class-Action Dieselgate Lawsuit Reveals More Defeat Devices

A second major Dieselgate class-action suit, filed on behalf of more than 100,000 Audi vehicle owners, says VW and Audi actively used defeat devices on both diesel and gasoline cars and crossovers until last May.

Dieselgate just keeps lurching along. And the news gets worse for Volkswagen as the scandal spreads beyond turbodiesel engines into the realm of gasoline. According to a consumer lawsuit, the Volkswagen plot to cheat on emissions testing by using defeat devices extended to at least six models, using Audi’s 3.0-liter gasoline engine.

VW’s Profitable Unit

Audi, Volkswagen’s luxury subsidiary and its most profitable unit, stands accused in the lawsuit of installing cheating software, designed to beat emissions tests in two popular luxury sedans and two popular luxury crossovers. A class-action lawsuit, filed on behalf of the owners of more than 100,000 vehicles, contained the allegations.

The suit indicated that the cheatware – software designed to cheat – had been installed on four models since February 2013 and possibly earlier. The vehicles include the:

  • A6 sedan
  • A8 sedan
  • Q5 crossover
  • A7 crossover

The latest major consumer lawsuit was filed Tuesday and said that Audi executives encouraged the used of the cheatware devices in vehicles as recently as May, eight months after the diesel cheating scandal became public.

VW Has No Comment

Jeannine Givinan, Volkswagen’s spokeswoman and Mark Clothier, Audi spokesman, declined to comment on the complaint.

The new lawsuit jibes with a story that appeared early this week in the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that brought to light the use of scamware in not only turbodiesel engines but also gasoline engines. The story was the first indication of how far the plot had spread. The story and news of the lawsuit follow by only two weeks Judge Charles Breyer’s final approval of the first major Dieselgate class-action lawsuit settlement. That settlement sets aside $10.03 billion to buy back 475,000 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel vehicles in which the automaker had installed emissions cheating software; $4.5 billion for environmental mitigation and infrastructure development; $1.2 billion for dealer compensation, and $400 million in compensation to 43 states. VW has the option of repairing any of the repatriated vehicles. However, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have not approved fixes for the engines involved.Newspaper Story Reveals Second Dieselgate Defeat Device

The latest class-action lawsuit comes at a time when VW is facing a whirlwind of continuing court action that includes criminal probes in the U.S., Germany, France, Italy, India and South Korea; individual lawsuits from five states and hundreds of shareholder claims. Also, the Hans Dieter Poetsch, head of the Volkswagen AG executive board, is under investigation by German prosecutors over disclosure of scandal to investors.

Atty. Steve Berman of Hagens, Berman, Sobol and Shapiro, LLP, the law firm representing consumers in the lawsuit, slammed the Audi. “Throughout the year-long Dieselgate scandal, Audi chose to continue to deceive consumers across the country with yet another emissions-cheating device installed in even more of its vehicles … This kind of flagrant disregard for federal environmental regulations and consumers’ expectations is unacceptable, and we intend to hold Audi to the law on behalf of those who overpaid for Audi’s noncompliant, polluting cars.”

Algorithm-Based Solution

The latest defeat device uses an algorithm-based solution to hide a vehicle’s real emissions when it is determined the vehicle is under test. Gasoline-engined vehicles can detect when the car or crossover is in a testing facility. Once it is determined the vehicle is under test, the car or crossover goes into so-called “low-rev” mode. “Low-rev” mode enables the computer system to falsify “the vehicle’s emission and fuel efficiency results by keeping the engine RPM artificially low, thereby using less fuel and emitting less carbon dioxide,” the Audi owners’ complaint states. The key software tell is the angle of the steering wheel. The consumer suit seeks unspecified damages, including restitution from Audi.

Sources: Automotive News, Reuters


Sign-up to our email newsletter for daily perspectives on car design, trends, events and news, not found elsewhere.