Consumer affairs reports that it’s not just the 2.0-liter Volkswagen TDI diesel engines that use illegal software to fool emission checks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Monday.
The EPA says several VW, Porsche, and Audi models with 3.0-liter diesels have been found with “defeat device” software similar to that used on nearly half a million of the smaller TDI engines.
The agency today issued a new Notice of Violation to Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche saying that it found several models with the illegal defeat devices. The models are: 2014 VW Touareg; 2015 Porsche Cayenne; and 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L, and Q5 crossover. The notice includes only models with the 3.0-liter diesel engine.
“The EPA’s investigation into this matter is continuing,” the notice said. “The EPA may find additional violations as the investigation continues.”
EPA said the software on the 3.0-liter engines increases emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) up to nine times the legal standard when the car is not hooked up to emissions-measuring equipment.
“VW has once again failed its obligation to comply with the law that protects clean air for all Americans,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for the Office for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “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.”
Both the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are investigating the latest alleged violations. The new notice covers approximately 10,000 diesel passenger cars already sold in the United States since model year 2014. In addition, it includes an unknown volume of 2016 vehicles.
“On September 25, the California Air Resources Board sent letters to all manufacturers letting them know we would be screening vehicles for potential defeat devices,” said Richard Corey, Executive Officer of the California Air Resources Board. “Since then ARB, EPA and Environment Canada have continued test programs on additional diesel-powered passenger cars and SUVs.
“These tests have raised serious concerns about the presence of defeat devices on additional VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles. Today we are requiring VW Group to address these issues. This is a very serious public health matter. ARB and EPA will continue to conduct a rigorous investigation that includes testing more vehicles until all of the facts are out in the open,” Corey said.
As in the 2.0-liter engines, EPA said VW “manufactured and installed software in the electronic control module of these vehicles that senses when the vehicle is being tested for compliance with EPA emissions standards.”
“When the vehicle senses that it is undergoing a federal emissions test procedure, it operates in a low NOx ‘temperature conditioning’ mode, EPA said. “Under that mode, the vehicle meets emission standards. 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.”
Obviously, this latest development in the Volkswagen diesel fraud scandal further highlights the importance of real-life emission testing of vehicles on the road. Swedish vehicle inspection specialist Opus, who was first to discover the Volkswagen diesel fraud, has already noticed an increased interest for its remote sensing technology.
In an interview with Swedish news agency Nyhetsbyrån Direkt, Opus’ Head of Investor Relations Peter Stenström stated last week: “There is big interest for Remote Sensing and we have received inquiries from different parties. Since NOx appears during the actual work load, the only right way to control these levels in real traffic.”
As we have reported, the EU countries decided on Wednesday last week that emissions test for diesel driven cars will be conducted under real-life conditions as of 2017. The decision came as a reaction to the revelation that Volkswagen cheated with its emission tests in the USA. Opus was first to identify Volkswagen’s fraud (read more about this Opus first to identify Volkswagen diesel fraud in the USA).
According to Peter Stenström, there are technologies that are mounted on the actual vehicle, but few suppliers of remote sensing solution, besides Opus. Opus is now in the middle of the launching its technology in the EU. Says Mr Stenström: “The technology that we, together with the university of Denver, have developed is patented. There are other solutions that are using laser, but they are still in a development stage and not operating.”