CARB Won’t Confirm Audi Investigation

Audi SQ5

German weekly news paper Bild am Sonntag is reporting that the California Air Resources Board (CARB), a department of that state’s environmental protection agency, has discovered a new emissions test cheat in Audi cars.

This is a different workaround than the Volkswagen diesel cheat, and was reportedly used in both gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles sold around the world. The report claims software was built into the cars’ automatic transmissions and could detect if the steering wheel was pointed straight ahead, which triggered a shift pattern that helped reduce carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption. If the wheel was turned, the cars reverted to a “normal” operating mode in which the engine would run “dirtier” and use more fuel.

Bild am Sonntag says the tricky transmissions were used in several hundred thousand Audi models built as recently as May of 2016, including A6 sedan and Q5 compact SUV. The order for the cheat software was allegedly ordered by an Audi engineer named Axel Eisner, the engineer placed in charge of the company’s powertrain design after the VW Group canned its technical leadership in the wake of the “Dieselgate” scandal.

We asked CARB for a comment, but got this boilerplate statement in response.

We cannot comment on an ongoing investigation. CARB takes seriously any violation of the certification process, especially those resulting in excess emissions, including oxides of nitrogen and other smog-forming pollutants, as well as carbon dioxide. On September 25, 2015 CARB issued a notification to all manufacturers that it would begin using enhanced detection and screening procedures on all modern passenger vehicles, whether diesel or gasoline powered, to determine if there are undisclosed auxiliary emissions control devices (AECDs), or defeat devices that impact those emissions. The new screening procedures are in addition to the standard certification emissions test cycles. If illegal AECDs or defeat devices are discovered, CARB will aggressively pursue the investigation and require the manufacturer to correct the violations at its own expense. In addition, the manufacturer may be subject to penalties, as provided by law.

We’ll be following this story and will keep you up to date on new developments.

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Chris Chase

Chris Chase

As a child, Chris spent much of his time playing with toy cars in his parents’ basement; when his mother would tell him to go play outside, he made car sounds while riding his bicycle or dug roads for his toys in the flower garden. Now he gets to indulge his obsession playing with real cars that make their own cool noises, and gets paid for it.