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New emissions cheating accusations levelled at Audi by German government

The Volkswagen-owned car manufacturer has been forced to recall 24,000 vehicles following accusations that the Audi A6 and A7 engines emit double the amount of pollutants that they appear to in emissions testing.

The accusations reignite the scandal which engulfed Volkswagen in 2015 after it was revealed that the automaker had deliberately programmed 11 million diesel-powered vehicles to activate severe emissions controls when laboratory testing was detected, allowing its vehicles to satisfy regulators while emitting up to 40 times the acceptable amounts of nitrogen oxides. The scandal has cost the company billions of dollars worldwide, including $4.3bn in a settlement with US regulators.

This is the first time, however, that Audi has been accused of cheating in its home country.

Alexander Dobrindt, Germany’s transport minister, said that software used in Audi engines was able to switch to a low-emissions mode when it recognised testing. He demanded that 24,000 vehicles be recalled.

According to a transport department spokesperson, Matthias Mueller, CEO of Volkswagen, was summoned to the ministry on Thursday.

The recall, confirmed by Audi on Thursday night, affects A7 and A8 models manufactured between 2009 and 2013, half of which were sold in Germany. These cars have not been implicated in the emissions cheating scandal previously.

Accusing to the ministry, when the steering wheel is turned, the cars emit double the amount of nitrogen oxides legally allowed by the Euro-5 emission standards.

Regulators seek to minimise the quantity of nitrogen oxide emitted, mostly by diesel engines; the pollutants contribute to smog and acid rain, react with sunlight to destroy ozone, and cause wide-ranging health complications.

Volkswagen admit that the EA 189 diesel engines in their luxury A8 vehicle does contain emissions control software, but that the software does not violate European regulations. A source close to Audi told Reuters that the excessive nitrogen oxide emissions are due to problems with the interaction of transmission and engine control units.

The company has been given until 12 June to propose a plan to refit the cars appropriately. Audi has announced that software updates will begin in July, and that they will continue to cooperate with German motor authorities.

In March, Audi’s Ingolstadt headquarters were raided by German prosecutors in connection with the emissions fraud, and its CEO said that investigations into the scandal were ongoing.

Other automakers, including Fiat Chrysler and General Motors, have more recently become embroiled in the same scandal.

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