The Volkswagen Group denies a new report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that drags Porsche and Audi, two of its most profitable brands, into the enormous emissions cheating scandal the German automaker has admitted to in September.
The latest report says at least 10,000 vehicles in the United States with a 3-liter diesel engine are also equipped with software that can cheat emissions tests. The number, however, could still go higher if the same software is found in the same models sold in other markets. The new models affected include the 2014 Volkswagen Touareg, the 2015 Porsche Cayenne, and the 2016 models of the Audi A6 Quattro, Audi A7 Quattro, Audi A8 and Audi Q5.
Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, says the luxury vehicles caught in the scandalous web are fitted with software that automatically turns on "temperature conditioning mode" when it detects that the vehicle is about to undergo testing. In this mode, the higher temperatures warm up the catalytic converter, allowing the vehicles to pass the stringent emissions tests in the U.S. However, they immediately go back to "normal mode" just one second after testing, says Giles.
"We have clear evidence of these additional violations and we thought it was important to put Volkswagen on notice and to inform the public," Giles says.
The affected vehicles, which are alleged to emit nine times more nitrogen oxide than prescribed levels in the U.S., could net Volkswagen another $375 million in fines for violating the Clean Air Act, on top of the $18 billion the automaker already faces for admitting rigging emissions test results in 11 million of its vehicles, including several models of the Jetta, Passat, Golf and Beetle.
Volkswagen spokesperson Mario Guerreiro, however, says no cheat device has been installed in the newer vehicles, without fully categorically denying the finding.
"Volkswagen AG wishes to emphasize that no software has been installed in the 3-liter V6 diesel power units to alter emissions characteristics in a forbidden manner," he says.
Nearly half a million Volkswagen vehicles discovered to have rigged emissions tests are found in the U.S., but majority of the affected vehicles are found in Europe and Asia, Volkswagen's biggest markets. Matthias Müller, former CEO of Porsche, has taken over the helm as CEO of Volkswagen as then chief Martin Winterkorn was forced to resign as the fallout over the cheating scandal ensued.