By on November 2, 2015

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The Environmental Protection Agency notified Volkswagen on Monday that cars equipped with 3-liter diesel engines included an illegal “defeat device” designed to cheat emissions tests, broadening the already damning scandal for the automaker.

The cars included on the notification were the 2014 Touareg, 2015 Porsche Cayenne Diesel and 2016 models of the Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L and Q5.

“Volkswagen has once again failed its obligation to comply with the law that protects clean air for all Americans,” Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the EPA said.

It’s unclear how many cars could be affected by the newly announced defeat device.

According to the EPA, cheating Volkswagen diesel cars would identify emissions tests and enter a “temperature conditioning” mode to illegally pass those tests. Those cars would alter their injection timing, exhaust gas recirculation rate and fuel pressure rates to induce higher exhaust temperatures and lower nitrogen oxide emissions. The high exhaust temperatures heat the selective catalytic reduction system (AdBlue or urea) to improve emissions scrubbing.

The “temperature conditioning” mode is timed to coincide with the federal emissions test program, and one second after the 75 initial tests are complete — which lasts 1,370 seconds, according to the agency — the vehicles switch back to “normal mode” with reduced emissions efficiency.

The EPA didn’t say whether Volkswagen admitted to the devices prior to being notified. The EPA didn’t specify whether the list of involved vehicles would grow to include older models.

A spokesperson for the EPA didn’t immediately respond to questions.

The agency, along with the California Air Resources Board, said the violations were uncovered as part of those agencies’ increased scrutiny on diesel emissions. Officials from both agencies said they haven’t identified any other cheat devices from any other automakers.

The notification could be damning for Volkswagen, who has maintained that its cheating program was isolated and relatively small. Defeat devices on another engine, across three lineups, may have been difficult to contain and may reveal more on how much Volkswagen of America knew about cars being imported to the country.

Audi and Porsche are likely to stop selling their affected vehicles in the U.S. after the EPA’s notice of violation, similar to Volkwagen’s stop-sale ordered in September. In Volkswagen’s case, roughly 1 out of every 5 cars sold was a diesel model. According to federal officials, cars already on the road are legal to drive

Volkswagen of America didn’t immediately comment on the letter. A spokesperson from Volkswagen Canada said only: “We are reviewing the EPA’s November 2nd notice and we are fully cooperating with the EPA’s investigation. No further comment at this time.”

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74 Comments on “UPDATE: Volkswagen Fitted Defeat Device to 3-liter Diesel SUVs, Sedans...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Just toss 10K more on the pile, nothing to see here.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      True, but now Porsche also gets to wear the brown helmet.

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      10k in the US; which isn’t their primary diesel market. Bigger fear for VW is a cascading series of recalls of those engines in Europe -similar to the recalls we’ve seen with their 2L TDI engines- which would be painful.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      There’s a lot to see here. While the raw numbers aren’t particularly significant, it shows how VW STILL hasn’t gotten the message about working with the EPA. It should have been VW announcing to the public they’ve discovered more potential problems and are actively working with the EPA to resolve them, not the EPA writing VW to tell them that they are even more pissed off than they already were (which was a lot.)

      “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover up.” The fact that VW STILL does not appear to be cooperating is going to make the eventual punishment that much more harsh. (If the EPA wasn’t planning on roping in the DoJ before, they sure are now.)

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    You know, some wag is gonna show up with a Diesel VW with plastic feet and a vise attached to the hood.

    They’ll call it “De-Feet De-Vise”.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    If 10K vehicles got it in the US, IF, how many others got it world wide (more, likely a lot more).

    Well, now we know how VW was able to build small diesels that were cheaper, got better mileage, required less maintenance, and have more power than any competitor.

    They lied – on a epic scale.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    Scheiße

  • avatar

    This is all a plan. Obama promised to bankrupt the coal industry (FACT).

    I heard the tape recording.

    You guys didn’t realize diesel and gasoline were next did ya?

    Realistically, we will NEVER stop using fossil fuels. But artificially raising prices/taxes to profit is in yo face.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      So Barry is long on petroleum?

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      That tinfoil hat you’re wearing is cutting off the blood supply to your brain.

      Ya, Obama is out to bankrupt big oil, that’s why domestic oil production has swelled to the US being the largest producer in the world, and to the largest production numbers in US history under his watch. It’s all part of his evil plan to drop the price of oil to $40ish a barrel collapsing the economies of our global adversaries in the Middle East and an emerging Russia, while simultaneously removing our dependency on OPEC.

      God, it’s such a brilliant plant and it’s a shame only you can see the evil of it’s depths.

      /facepalm

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      So Obama found the diesel powertrain engineers within VAG, called them up, and told them to cheat?

      Wow. He’s really remarkably good at execution for someone that (you always insist) can’t string a sentence together without a teleprompter or get into law school without an unfair advantage.

    • 0 avatar

      To the editors: seriously, why do you let this low-brow garbage continue to pollute the comments?

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      Stop ruining my favorite blog with your garbage.

      Go back to manchild comments about destroying 1.4 liter cars with your 6.2 liter engine.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    I do wonder how much VW may have to pay in anti trust fines and compensation to other car makers who may have been denied sales by VW cheating

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    VAG is screwed. Completely, totally, utterly, positively screwed.

    Might as well start the death watch or the wagers on a two rocks sink faster tied together merger of disaster VAG+FCA or VAG+PSA or mega VAG+FCA+PSA watch.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2015/11/02/epa-diesel-suv-volkswagen-audi-porsche/75044132/

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Well, this is a new wrinkle. Cheating even *with* SCR.

    Makes me wonder if it’s even possible to meet current standards honestly.

    Also makes me want to buy stock in Toyota. Gasoline-electric hybrid technology will be the big winner from this after the dust settles.

  • avatar
    carguy

    They should have called it the self-defeat device.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      My favorite comment so far. It’s mind boggling that they didn’t get all of the hurt over in one shot and admit to the issues with the diesel 6 when the scandal first broke. So now they’ve gone out of their way to cheat, mislead investigators during the beginning of the investigation, then when caught red handed still only admitted to the exact scope of the original investigation. That’s basically the trifecta of what not to do when you could really use some leniency from the agencies involved.

      And anyone who ever believed this was the work of a handful of rogue engineers has never worked in the software industry. This kind of stuff gets approved by product or someone (usually several someones) up the food chain. Whether they were smart enough to keep those decisions/approvals out of email and only did them in-person or over the phone is a separate issue from the infeasibility of it not happening at all.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        Yeah, at this point the EPA will be well-past the redline in how pissed they are at VW. They will (correctly) believe them to simply be not worth the trouble of supervising any longer and will levy the maximum statutory fines.

        They will then go chatting with the DoJ to see what they can come up with. (Which will be a lot, under the maxim that everybody is always violating Federal laws; the DoJ just has to decide if they want to charge you for it.)

        The goal will be to drive VWoA out of business. VW appears to have nothing but contempt for their regulators, and it’s not an unfair supposition to believe VW AG to be rotten to the core.

        I imagine the European regulators aren’t real thrilled with them at this point either. Germany will probably go easy on them, given how Lower Saxony owns a significant portion of the company, but I expect France and the UK will be falling over themselves to add fines of their own.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Spread to other makes/models and as recently as the 2016 model year – but Winterkorn knows nothing. Seven model years of cheating on what could easily start to push 12 – 14 million vehicles on an epic, industrial scale, and VAG really wants the world to believe it involved just 10 to 20 people.

    There is something just so inherently corrupt on this that goes far beyond exploding Firestone tires, bad pedal clearance, faulty ignition switches Claymore mine airbags, and immolating cruise control relays.

    All of the above started rooted in incompetence, not in an institutional level plan to cheat and lie to officials, governments, and consumers. It may have evolved to that, but it didn’t start in that place.

    This – this started in a place to defraud and went on starting in 2009 and now impacts 2016 products across at least three makers globally.

    Sure, no one directly died…but there is something even more reprehensible about this whole situation.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      “Sure, no one directly died…but there is something even more reprehensible about this whole situation.”

      Shark jumped.

      You’re saying that GM ignoring a problem, blaming the victims and their families for what was an engineering screw up that caused deaths and GM ducking responsibility for years is less morally reprehensible than what VW has done?

      Neither of these companies deserve any of our business.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        Until we have some idea how long how many vehicles were releasing how much extra NOX any statement regarding likely numbers of fatalities is premature. GM is/was psychopathic in it’s behavior as is/was VAG. I’m waiting to find out if VW self reported the 3.0’s under the guidance of their hired advisors or if the EPA or independent research found it, but VW is yet further down in my esteem.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        You mean like Ford ignoring immolating cruise control modules in 10 million plus vehicles.

        Or how about Firestone taking the rap for Ford’s engineering decision to intentionally underinflate tires out of their specified safe range by OEM spec?

        Or Toyota working the system to avoid a broad recall on gas pedal clearance issues and floor mat problems?

        Or the relatively free ride Toyota and Honda are getting on Takata airbags?

        The examples are incompetence.

        No one at GM said, “you know what, we can’t build an ignition cylinder that meets the required torque so instead, we’re going to cheat. Dozens will die but hey — profits.”

        The ignition switches were built to specification, they passed regulations, and then the problem arose – the unnatural acts that followed were the actions of incompetent company. No one has proven willful criminal level, talking RICO standards here, institutionalized conspiracies.

        What VW did was willful, calculated, and was done for the singular purpose of cheating government regulations and out maneuvering competitors. Not just one product line, no – all VAG product lines. Not just the United States – no. Globally. We’re at 11 million vehicles and that number will certainly grow as the additional impacted models sell at much higher volumes in other parts of the world.

        Not only that – they added the defeat device to other engines when, wait for it, THEY ALREADY KNEW THEY WERE UNDER GLOBAL INVESTIGATION WHICH STARTED 18 MONTHS AGO.

        Instead of going, “gee maybe we should stop, they might catch on,” they added the software to 2016 models. That takes stupidity and screwyouitism to a whole new level of screw the regulations at all costs that I didn’t think a major corporation was capable of.

        Don’t confuse institutional incompetence as we have seen since the 1990s at Ford, GM, FCA (gee, those Ram pickup trucks buy back — or do we ignore that too), Toyota, Honda (by proxy Takata), with activity that likely violates United States RICO standards. There is a huge difference.

        At least with Ford, GM, FCA, Toyota and Honda, you can wrap yourself up with the warm blanket of the Fight Club movie quote about the cost to ignore versus the cost of recall.

        VAG simply screwed everyone over for fun and profit – don’t lie to yourself that you can’t see the deaths from NOX and make a 1:1 cause/causation.

        For the record, my former classmate just buried her 16 year old daughter last month, she died of an asthma attack. She found her daughter dead in her bedroom, rescue inhaler still clutched in her hand. Cause causation? Who knows — but what VAG has done is a huge ball of suck that would make a dystopian corporation out of a movie script proud.

        http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/recorder/obituary.aspx?n=gabriella-walbeehm&pid=176046604

        • 0 avatar
          sirwired

          APaGttH,

          Thank you for this comment. It really sums up what the real issue is (the big Middle Finger to regulations and regulators) and should (but won’t) shut up those who are all… butttt GEEEE EMMMM!!!! This is just the EPA being REALLY MEAN to a foreign company! What’s the big deal?

        • 0 avatar
          brettc

          So sorry to hear about the death of your friend’s daughter. My wife has severe asthma so something like that is always a possibility with her as well. It’s just lovely that VW knew that the car we’ve ridden in many times together is putting out higher emissions than it should but didn’t do anything about it. I don’t see them lasting too much longer in the U.S. after all of their schemes are uncovered.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I have to agree with your last point. Although I do think it has been blown out of proportion and the actual crime doesn’t matter in the grand scheme, what is troubling is the vast conspiracy which took place within the corporation. The same thinking applied here could have been applied to something more sinister, say fudge the safety features to save a buck (as Ford did with that torsion bar on the F150).

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        And Ford thanks everyone for already forgetting how they tried to game the IIHS crash tests in their favor over a $58 part in a truck that has an ATP north of $40,000.

        Tyler Durden is not pleased.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        28-cars-later, It’s not really the defeat devices themselves that are the issue. If that’s all it was, there would be the expensive fixes and a slap on the wrist to appropriately chastise them. You are right, they weren’t exactly rolling coal here…

        The reason VW is in so much trouble is they decided it was a good idea to treat the EPA like a bunch of idiots and Jedi Mind Trick the whole problem away for an entire year… “These aren’t the NOx emissions you are looking for. We can go about our business. Move along.” That has the EPA furious to no end. And now, VW not fessing up to the 3L models? That’s the proverbial nail in the coffin.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Not just the EPA – remember – the number of cars impacted in the US in ratio to the rest of the world is low.

          In the big scheme of things, US regulators are the least of their problems – Europe where the dominate and diesel is ubiquitous is a whole different story.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    Oops. Turns out this scandal is bigger than initially reported. Sharks smell blood in the water and I wouldn’t be surprised if other automakers get cought in this.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      How so?

      Mazda couldn’t even get their diesel engines US certified and although I never saw a, “we give up,” story, it certainly appears they did.

      GM small diesels in the Cruze has what, a $5K price premium and is pretty darn complex to meet US requirements. The GM 2.8 6 diesel is being looked at by the government, so judge and jury is out – but I don’t think the engine is even in the wild yet in the Colorado/Canyon – so going through certification?

      Toyota doesn’t have a US diesel – or Honda – or Subaru. The only diesels offered by Ford or FCA in the US are big diesel options in trucks.

      No diesel Buicks, Cadillacs, no small engine diesel GMCs, no Lincoln diesels, no Acura diesels, no Lexus diesels, no Nissan diesels (yet, I know about the new Titan), no Infiniti diesels…

      In ROW could be different but in the US…who is around that is selling small diesels to get caught?!?

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      ““Volkswagen has once again failed its obligation to comply with the law that protects clean air for all Americans,” Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the EPA said.”

      “Once again”? It looks like the EPA is facing budget cuts and has to make it up in fines by treating each announcement of the extent of the cheat device as a new violation.

      Volkswagen might be able to advertise “Proud sponsor of the U.S. EPA” by the time the “revelations” end.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Wouldn’t it be a new violation as Audi and Porsche are separate companies that report into a global conglomerate?

        Audi was already in the game, but Porsche has now joined the club?

        Will happily stand corrected but by how they are incorporated, and corporations are people, I believe division of is a stand alone entity in the eyes of the law.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        Lorenzo, that’s not how fines work. They are generally remitted to the US Treasury, not the budget of the agency levying fines. (There are exceptions to this, but the Clean Air Act isn’t one of them.)

  • avatar
    brettc

    I think VW might have some ‘splainin to do. It’s mind boggling that they could use it in so many engines without factoring in the financial and public perception risk of being caught. They should probably just call it a day in the U.S. at least.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    “Volkswagen has once again failed its obligation to comply with the law….”

    multiple counts.

    RICO

    death

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      No, not death. The fines will be payed in installments, just enough to make up the EPA’s budget cuts. Smart germs don’t kill the host, they just bleed it slowly.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        That’s not the way fines usually work; unless the statute authorizing the funds specifically says otherwise (and I do not believe the Clean Air Act does), fines, fees, and taxes go into the General Fund for the federal government, not to the agency levying the fines. (There are exceptions to this, but they are not the norm.)

        I imagine at this point the EPA is beyond disgusted with VW (as well they should be) and will do everything they can to drive VWoA out of the country.

        “It’s not the scandal, it’s the coverup…”

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I bet RenCen is happy their negligence case is off the radar of the general public now. CEO Barra should send Winterkorn and the new VAG CEO a fruit basket.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Just as Clay Ford Jr, sent a fruit basket to Toyoda san who probably sent a fruit basket to Barra who carried it forward to Winterkorn.

      Meanwhile everyone is receiving fruit baskets from Takata who still has tens of millions of Claymore mines out in the wild pretending to be airbags.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        That’s also off the scope isn’t it now?

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          And Ford not installing reinforcements bars that cost $58 on the less popular body styles of the F150 trying to game IIHS crash test results.

          What, they did what?!?

          Funny isn’t it.

          Seems everyone has forgotten that FCA is buying back RAM pickup trucks that can’t/or won’t fix too.

  • avatar
    carr1on

    The window for full disclosure is damn near shut, if not already so. How much longer will VW be allowed to keep ‘discovering’ additional models with defeat devices?

  • avatar
    sirwired

    And that’s all she wrote, folks.

    This many weeks into the scandal, VW should have been TELLING the EPA they found more “defeat devices”, not having the EPA releasing another letter informing VW they have more vehicles out of compliance. We should not be reading headlines starting with “According to the EPA…”; it should be “Today, VW disclosed to the EPA and public…”

    It was bad enough that VW treated the EPA like a bunch of credulous morons while trying to head off the scandal to begin with. But failing to fess up on EVERYTHING by this point? If I’m the EPA, by this point I’m going to assume that VW is rotten to the core and has no intention of complying with the law. They’ll levy the maximum statutory penalties, and then contact the DoJ to see what THEY can come up with too.

    To quote Doc Hudson from Cars: “Sheriff. I want his hood on a platter! I’m gonna put him in jail ’til he rots. No, check that… I’m gonna put him in jail ’til the jail rots on top of him, then I’m gonna move him to a new jail and let that jail rot!”

    This is the end of VWoA; everything they’ve done with this scandal has been too little, too late. After all this time, not only are they continuing to play the US Govt. for a fool, they STILL haven’t told owners how much they are going to be compensated (even beyond the fix they’ll have to get), they still have dealers in a holding pattern, and they inexplicably are STILL trying to get the TDIs certified. At this point no dealer, anywhere, will want to touch them with a 29 1/2 foot pole, no matter how much cash VW piles on the hood.

    Consumers could forgive earlier safety scandals (i.e. GM) as simple incompetence and a complete bureaucratic *bleep!*-up. But I think the public at large will be a lot less tolerant of VW playing them and the government for fools.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Three years ago I was in the process of buying a new Audi Q7. The first words out of everyone’s mouths were “Diesel! The diesel! OMG THE DIESEL!” I went with the gas engine.

    Looks like that bet paid off.

  • avatar
    jacek

    Has EPA checked gasoline VW cars? I would, just in case.

  • avatar
    NJAudidriver

    How likely is it that VW/Audi was cheating on gasoline cars too?

  • avatar
    jkross22

    These V6 diesel cars and SUV’s used ADBLUE to supposedly cleaned the exhaust of NOx to get it within legal limits.

    Will be interesting to find out what BMW and Merc have done (or not done) to get their diesels within legal limits.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      It was reported (but you know what that means in this era of instant news checking facts be damned) that folks have looked at BMW and Mercedes and didn’t see any unnatural acts within their products.

      That was some time ago, and included here on TTAC.

      VAG has been able to provide diesel technology at a price advantage (broadly speaking) over the competition and with a higher level of reliability. It’s pretty clear at this point why.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Perhaps the price points of BMW and Mercedes products allow for the cost of making diesels meet the standard without taking all of the profit out. It may just not be possible to do it in a vehicle priced where the Golf TDI is at for example. The Chevy Cruze was mentioned as having a very high price premium for the diesel. Perhaps now you know why.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      The Mercedes engines drink AdBlue like crazy, and have tons of problems with the SCR and the EGR system.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        How much could a 2014 ML320 BlueTech, say, carry on-board, and would all of that be consumed between oil-changes? (Does MB use an oil-life computer or fixed intervals?)

  • avatar
    Chetter

    VW- the official automobile of Tom Shady, Bill Belicheat and the New England Patriots!

  • avatar
    EAF

    I think VW continues to deny these recent EPA allegations. They maintain that no defeat devices are installed in their V6 diesels.

    Either way I love the additional negative publicity, a welcomed early Christmas gift for me.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    This weekend just opposite the entrance of my neighborhood two newish VWs were involved in an accident. Jetta and Beetle , both TDIs. No injuries.

    I said to my wife OMG this is so bad the TDI’s are now committing Hara Kiri.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    I’m convinced that this situation is being blown way out of proportion. Bigger scandals have (and are) unfolding in Washington DC yet nobody’s yelling and screaming. I wouldn’t even think about owning a Volkswagen or Audi (even though my fiancee has a VW Jetta, non-TDI), but I still think this is a bit ridiculous.

    At the end of the day, I’m pretty sure that these cars that have this “cheat” in their firmware will still be a lot better off in regards to emissions than a vehicle 20 or 30 years older. The EPA has singlehandedly destroyed the advantages of owning a diesel vehicle. They’re not as efficient anymore due to the mandatory emissions systems. They’re also not as reliable as they used to be and they cost a lot more to repair solely for the emissions systems.

    It’s really nice to know how our tax dollars are being spent. Did I say spent? I’m sorry, I mean wasted.

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