The five companies under Volkswagen’s umbrella that are involved in the sale of its V6 diesel engines in the United States received notification today from the Environmental Protection Agency alleging that their 3.0 liter V6 engines also contain defeat devices that circumvent EPA emissions testing.
Volkswagen later denied those allegations.
This second diesel-related notification of violation for the year — sent to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, Volkswagen Group of America, Porsche AG and Porsche Cars North America — outlines that the diesel engines containing the alleged defeat devices from model year 2014 through 2016 vehicles emit up to nine times the EPA’s standard of nitrogen oxide.
This list, provided by the EPA, covers only vehicles of these models that include the 3.0 liter diesel engines, which it says includes approximately 10,000 vehicles already sold in the U.S. since 2014 along with an unknown volume of 2016 vehicles.
- 2014 VW Touareg
- 2015 Porsche Cayenne
- 2016 Audi A6 Quattro
- 2016 Audi A7 Quattro
- 2016 Audi A8
- 2016 Audi A8L
- 2016 Audi Q5
Both the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) have initiated investigations into the matter.
“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.”
What exactly is a “defeat device?” To catch you up, here is a description, provided by the EPA, describing the alleged violations in more detail:
As alleged in the NOV (Notice of Violation), 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. 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. 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.”
VW's software on these vehicles includes one or more Auxiliary Emission Control Devices (AECD) that the company failed to disclose, describe and justify in their applications for certificate of conformity for each model.
Via an official statement, Volkswagen denied that its V6 TDI engines contain defeat devices. Here is the full statement:
"The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) informed Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft on Monday that vehicles with V6 TDI engines had a software function which had not been adequately described in the application process. 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," the statement said. "Volkswagen will cooperate fully with the EPA to clarify this matter in its entirety."
Porsche Cars North America issued its own official statement regarding the allegations toward the diesel variant of the Porsche Cayenne.
"We are surprised to learn this information. Until this notice, all of our information was that the Porsche Cayenne Diesel is fully compliant," the statement said. "Porsche Cars North America will cooperate fully with all relevant authorities."
Porsche issued another statement Tuesday evening: "Porsche Cars North America, Inc. today decided, in view of the unexpected U.S. EPA notice received yesterday, to voluntarily discontinue sales of model year 2014 through 2016 Porsche Cayenne Diesel vehicles until further notice.
"We are working intensively to resolve this matter as soon as possible. Customers may continue to operate their vehicles normally."
Responding to the EPA's announcement on Monday, Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, calls to question VW’s previous claims that only a few people were aware of the issue.
“The official expansion of this problem from the Volkswagen brand, and a single Audi model, on to multiple Audi models and at least one Porsche, casts a darker shadow on the VW Group,” Brauer said. “It also makes any past claims of ‘a limited number of people’ involved in the deception appear even more outrageous. Volkswagen would do well to immediately and completely disclose all people and products involved in this deception, no matter how far-reaching. Repairing the automaker’s brand and regaining trust should be VW Group’s highest priority at this point, but it can’t begin until full and voluntary disclosure is achieved.”
According to KBB senior director of commercial insights Rebecca Lindland — also responding to the EPA announcement — this may also complicate VW’s compensation strategy for what may now be a more demanding demographic of car shoppers affected.
“This just makes official what we all suspected — no make or model was spared this treatment since the technology was shared across all diesel engines in the VW family,” Lindland said. “Not only will the potential fines be even greater than first calculated, but the cost of fixes will be as well.
“Whatever compensation they come up with may satisfy a VW Jetta owner, but is less likely to satisfy a Porsche Cayenne owner who paid so much more for their vehicle.”
Stay tuned to Auto Remarketing as we continue to follow the situation as the details come to light.