Dieselgate: Audi faces fresh cheat claims

Audi sign

German newspaper claims it has uncovered evidence of yet another emission cheat device in Audi-badged cars.

The Volkswagen Group is back in the Dieselgate spotlight after claims surfaced over the weekend that US authorities have uncovered yet another emissions cheat built in Audi vehicles.

German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported that the US-based California Air Resources Board (CARB) engineers had uncovered the software cheat in an unspecified V6-engined Audi model fitted with an AL155 automatic transmission.

The cheat is believed to be linked to the car’s electrically assisted steering system. According to the report, if the vehicle accelerates and the steering wheel doesn’t move – a specific condition that will kick in if the emissions test is performed on a rolling road – the car switches the gearbox into a low-emissions mode.

The paper said applying torque to the steering wheel in potentially hundreds of thousands of vehicles would deactivate the car’s “warm up” program, meaning the car would use more fuel and produce more emissions.

The cheat device is alleged to be present in models including the Audi A6, A8, and Q5.

Both CARB and Audi are yet to comment on the report.

Audi last month said it would set aside €752 million ($A1.09 billion) to cover the cost of recalls that will roll out for its V6 diesel engine caught up in the Dieselgate scandal.

According to Audi, a $US10 billion ($A13 billion) settlement reached with US authorities in July won’t cover all the claims against the German luxury carmaker.

Volkswagen claims it has not broken any laws in Australia relating to the emissions cheat it built into more than 90,000 cars sold here, and that it therefore does not need to compensate customers.

To date, Volkswagen Australia has issued only one recall to install new firmware on almost 9000 Amarok trade utes. Its Dieselgate website has not been updated since a statement issued in June advising Australian owners that, unlike owners in the US, they would not be compensated for having been sold vehicles with the emissions cheat devices.

However, Australia’s consumer watchdog in September launched Federal Court action against Volkswagen Australia over the diesel engines scandal.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleges Volkswagen Australia and its parent company “engaged in multiple breaches of the Australian Consumer Law by concealing software in their vehicles to cheat emissions testing and misleading consumers about the vehicle’s compliance with standards and emission levels during on-road conditions”.

The carmaker potentially faces millions of dollars in fines if the court sides with the ACCC.

The case has its next hearing scheduled for December 6.

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