EPA Found Defeat Software On Volkswagen’s 3.0-liter TDI V6
Volkswagen’s problems related to its diesel emissions scandal isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, it might have just gotten worse. According to a press release issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, VW is once again being tagged with a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act after it was reportedly discovered that its bigger diesel engines also had devices that were installed to cheat emissions tests.
This discovery could lead to another bruising black eye to the German automaker and it figures to get even worse now that Audi and Porsche have been thrown into the mix. The new NOV alleges that Volkswagen, as the parent company of VW, Audi, and Porsche, installed a similar defeat device in a number of 2014 to 2016 model year VW, Audi, and Porsche light duty diesel models equipped with 3.0-liter six-cylinder engines. The objective of these defeat devices is similar to that found on the four-cylinder diesel models and that’s to intentionally mask the engine’s emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) during emissions tests. In real-driving, these engines were found to emit up to nine times the EPA’s standard.
The NOV also pointed to the discovery of these new violations, which happened after the first NOV for its 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engines was issued to Volkswagen back in September 18, 2015. The EPA followed that up by testing all 2015 and 2016 light duty diesel models available in the U.S using updated testing procedures specifically designed to detect these defeat devices. These tests, which were performance by the EPA’s National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory, CARB’s Haagen-Smit Laboratory, and Environment Canada’s River Road Laboratory, unearthed more models that had their own defeat devices.
Among the models affected in the new NOV include the 2014 Volkswagen Touareg, the 2015 Porsche Cayenne, and the 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L, and Q5. The NOV is approximating that over 10,000 diesel passenger cars already sold in the US since MY 2014 are affected, as are an unknown number 2016 models.
For its part, Volkswagen has denied any knowledge of this new cheating fiasco, explaining that the cars the EPA is referring to now "had a software function which had not been adequately described in the application process." This function, according to VW, is not capable of altering emissions characteristics in a "forbidden manner."
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Why it matters
Where do I even begin?
That seems to be the question of the day among those who have been following this scandal since it first broke in September 2015. As if it was bad enough that Volkswagen’s already embroiled in one notice of violation, now comes another one?
There are a couple of things that need to be pointed out, if this new NOV is true. First, how widespread is this cheating scandal? Granted, the 10,000 models cited in the new NOV is a far cry from the 500,000 US cars already cited by the EPA and the 11 million VW diesel cars worldwide. But, this isn’t about numbers anymore, this is about a systematic attempt at deceiving its customers and a complete disregard of environmental safety standards.
It also puts into question Volkswagen’s claims that only a handful of software developers in Germany were responsible for the defeat devices. No matter how the Germany automaker tries to spin it now, it’s going to be even more difficult to find anybody who believes these explanations. I, for one, am not buying it anymore.
It’s not just Volkswagen anymore. Audi and Porsche have been thrown into the fire too, based on the affected models the EPA cited, we’re not talking about entry level models from either brand. We’re talking about flagship models, the very cars both Audi and Porsche are touting as the crown jewels of their lineups. Now, they’re compromised too? Porsche itself was surprised to see the Cayenne Diesel involved in the defeat device scandal, saying that until this particular notice, the company was led to believe that the SUV was fully compliant.
There’s really no going around it anymore. Volkswagen can deny this all it wants, but the ship has sailed as far as public perception is concerned. The German automaker’s in deep trouble and there’s no turning back. Its reputation is in tatters and its long-term credibility is at stake.
With that in mind, it’s imperative for the company to just fess up and come clean, no matter how far-reaching this mess turns into. It’s really the only move left to make at this point.
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