Volkswagen’s emissions-cheating scandal continues to grow even in the wake of massive diesel vehicle recalls. New testing by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has discovered the “defeat device” software in another 10,000 diesel luxury vehicles sold under the VW, Audi and Porsche brands. And the U.S. regulators have been investigating a separate emissions-control device used in 2016 car models.
The EPA’s second notice of violation issued to Volkswagen covers 10,000 diesel passenger cars sold in the United States since the model year 2014 and an “unknown volume” of model 2016 cars. That may seem like a drop in the bucket compared with Volkswagen’s earlier recall of 8.5 million diesel vehicles in Europe alone. But it signifies the emissions-cheating software’s goes beyond the mass-market, four-cylinder diesel vehicles caught up in the initial recalls, Reuters reports. Now the software is turning up in the more powerful V6 engines commonly found in sports and luxury cars.
Vehicles named in the latest EPA notice include the 2014 VW Touareg, the 2015 Porsche Cayenne, and the 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L, and Q5.
The EPA has also been trying to find out more about separate emissions-control device installed in additional 2016 diesel-powered Volkswagen vehicles. But that U.S. investigation has been running into resistance from the German automaker, the Wall Street Journal reports. Volkswagen previously disclosed the device’s existence but then withdrew a request for the EPA to certify such vehicles.
Volkswagen has also denied the latest EPA findings related to the V6 engines in its sports and luxury car models. A Volkswagen spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that the emissions-control devices in question were “permissible software.” He added: “What’s at issue here is clear: Does the U.S. want competition in the American market or not?”
U.S. regulators and the German automaker have not yet revealed the expected recall schedule for almost 500,000 vehicles sold in the U.S. market. Such a recall may also presumably include the 10,000 sports and luxury vehicles named in the second EPA notice of violation.
Volkswagen may be disputing the EPA’s latest findings, but it has admitted to additional issues that go beyond diesel vehicles and affect gasoline-powered cars. The German automaker recently revealed that its own emissions testing found 800,000 gasoline-powered vehicles with certifications that understated the carbon dioxide emission levels, according to a second Wall Street Journal story.
The initial emissions scandal has already led to the resignation of Martin Winterkorn, former CEO of Volkswagen, and leaves the automaker facing potentially billions of dollars in fines. The widespread presence of emissions-cheating software in so many vehicles suggests complicity going all the way up the corporate ladder rather than being the work of a few rogue engineers, ethicists say.
Matthias Müller, CEO of Volkswagen, has stepped up to run the German automaker after previously being head of Porsche. But the EPA’s latest findings about at least one Porsche model may raise questions about how much Muller knew beforehand, independent market analysts told the Wall Street Journal.
Jeremy Hsu has been working as a science and technology journalist in New York City since 2008. He has written on subjects as diverse as supercomputing and wearable electronics for IEEE Spectrum. When he’s not trying to wrap his head around the latest quantum computing news for Spectrum, he also contributes to a variety of publications such as Scientific American, Discover, Popular Science, and others. He is a graduate of New York University’s Science, Health & Environmental Reporting Program.