A new type of defeat device has been found in Audi vehicles

New cheating software found in Audi cars

Image credit: Reuters

A new type of emission test cheating software has been found in Audi cars, a premium brand of the Volkswagen family. Volkswagen confirmed the existence of the technology, which reportedly enables vehicles with automatic transmission to distort emission testing results.

The information was revealed by German tabloid Bild am Sonntag last week, referring to findings of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). According to the newspaper, CARB discovered this summer a type of defeat device in an older Audi model, which was unrelated to last year’s emissions-cheating scandal.

The technology would detect whether the car is being tested by assessing the position of the steering wheel. If so, the vehicle would change gears more rapidly in order to optimise emissions of CO2 as well as nitrogen oxides. Diesel as well as petrol-powered cars have been fitted with the system.

The technology, known as adaptive shifting, is designed to improve performance and optimise fuel economy in normal driving conditions.

“Adaptive shift programmes can lead to incorrect and non-reproducible results” when the cars are tested, VW said in response to an article published in Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Saturday.

“Audi has explained the technical backgrounds of adaptive shift programmes to the Federal Motor Vehicle Authority KBA and has made available technical information.”

CARB has declined to confirm the findings but admitted it has expanded the review of VW vehicles suspected of cheating in emission tests.

According to Bild, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has opened an investigation into the new discovery and plans to conduct further talks with VW. EPA did not confirm Bild’s conclusions, neither did VW and Audi.

The EPA and CARB are currently working with VW on how to correct 85,000 3.0-litre diesel-fuelled Audis, Porsches and VWs manufactured between 2009 and 2015, which emit up to nine times the legally allowed amount of pollution.

A court hearing is planned for 30 November to decide on that matter, while the car maker is also discussing compensation for owners of affected vehicles. Previously, owners of 2.0-litre vehicles received $5,100 to $10,000 in compensation in addition to a buyback offer.

At least two class-action lawsuits have been filed against Audi in the US over the issue. One lawsuit says the CARB has “determined that Audi had also surreptitiously installed a gearing related defeat device in the Class Vehicles. The defeat device was used to circumvent the class vehicles’ emission control systems that exist to comply with Clean Air Act emissions standards.”

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