Regulators Find More “Defeat Devices” In 10,000 VW, Porsche And Audi Vehicles

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 1.23.13 PMA month and a half after the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board found “defeat devices” designed to cheat emission tests in nearly 500,000 Volkswagen and Audi vehicles, the agencies’ ongoing investigation found additional Clean Air Act violations in the carmaker’s newer model Porsche, Audi and VW cars. 

The EPA announced Monday that it had detected defeat devices in approximately 10,000 model year 2014 to 2016 VW vehicles equipped with 3.0 liter engines.

Affected vehicles include the 2014 VW Touareg, the 2015 Porsche Cayenne, and the 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L, and Q5.

“VW has once again failed its obligation to comply with the law that protects clean air for all Americans,” Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for the Office for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said during a press call on Monday. “All companies should be playing by the same rules. EPA, with our state, and federal partners, will continue to investigate these serious matters, to secure the benefits of the Clean Air Act, ensure a level playing field for responsible businesses, and to ensure consumers get the environmental performance they expect.”

Regulators previously accused VW of installing the so-called defeat devices on about 482,000 diesel vehicles since 2008.

According to the EPA notice of violation [PDF], the vehicles contain two modes of operation – temperature conditioning and normal mode.

The “sophisticated software algorithm” in the vehicles is programmed to detect when the car is undergoing official emissions testing, and to only turn on full emissions control systems – the temperature conditioning mode – during that testing.

According to the notice:

“At exactly one second after the completion of the initial phases of the standard test procedure, the vehicle immediately changes a number of operating parameters that increase NOx emissions and indicates in the software that it is transitioning to ‘normal mode,’ where emissions of NOx increase up to nine times the EPA standard, depending on the vehicle and type of driving conditions. In other tests where the vehicle does not experience driving conditions similar to the start of the federal test procedure, the emissions are higher from the start, consistent with ‘normal mode.'”

The effectiveness of these vehicles’ pollution emissions control devices is greatly reduced during all normal driving situations, emitting nearly 40 times the allowable standard of nitrogen oxide.

Under the Clean Air Act, vehicle manufacturers are required to certify to the EPA that their products will meet applicable federal emission standards to control air pollution, and every vehicle sold in the U.S. must be covered by an EPA-issued certificate of conformity.

Motor vehicles – such as the Volkswagen models in question – equipped with defeat devices, which reduce the effectiveness of the emission control system during normal driving conditions, cannot be certified.

As with the Sept. 18 notice of violation from the EPA, the agencies say the vehicles are safe to drive.

“Today we are requiring VW Group to address these issues,” Richard Corey, Executive Officer of CARB, said on a press call Monday. “This is a very serious public health matter. CARB and EPA will continue to conduct a rigorous investigation that includes testing more vehicles until all of the facts are out in the open.”

For more information on the continuing VW emissions debacle, check coverage from our colleagues at Consumer Reports.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.