Approximately 60,000 Audi A6 and A7 diesel model vehicles have seen their deliveries suspended amid fears of an emissions irregularity which echoes the Dieselgate scandal of its parent company, VW, which first came to light over two years ago.
According to Audi, information regarding the most recent emissions concerns was first discovered during an internal investigation. Subsequently, Audi reported its findings to Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority along with its recommendation to resolve the emissions issue by offering a software fix. Audi’s recommended course of action mimics that of VW’s proposed solution after its defeat-device scandal became public, affecting over 11 million cars sold worldwide.
In February this year, Munich prosecutors raided Audi’s development headquarters, the third time they had done so, as part of their ongoing investigation into the manipulation of diesel emissions tests. Now, the Munich prosecutor’s office has confirmed that their criminal investigations will be extended to include the latest diesel A6 and A7 models.
This recent development is especially poignant given that many believe that it was Audi who designed the defeat-device which VW used to conceal NOx emissions during lab tests and, in doing so, duped customers into believing that their diesel vehicles performed more efficiently and had a lower negative environmental impact.
According to the newspaper Handelsblatt, Audi first engineered the defeat-device back in 1999, six years before VW would implement it into certain models of its diesel range.
Of the 60,000 Audi A6 and A7 vehicles reported to be affected by the emission anomalies, 33,000 are believed to have been sold in Germany alone. Audi has said that none of the affected A6 and A7 models have been sold to the US market – a point which the manufacturer is no doubt keen to stress given that the original defeat-devices were first discovered by three science students in the US and resulted in VW’s setting aside an estimated €25 bn in recalls, fines and compensation to date.
If the affected A6 and A7 models are recalled, it would not be the first time Audi has sanctioned a recall this year. In February 2018, Audi announced that it was recalling approximately 5000 of its A8, 4.2 litre TDI V8 Euro-6 standard sedans. Again, the reason behind this decision was to address emission levels and, similarly, a software update was offered as the remedy.
As with the A8, the affected A6 and A7 diesel vehicles are also intended to be in compliance with the latest Euro-6 standard. This latest iteration of emissions legislation came into effect on September 1st 2015. It represents the sixth version of the European Union standards which aim to reduce harmful vehicle emissions applying to cars and vans of both diesel and petrol variants. In diesel-powered vehicles, the new Euro-6 standard sees the levels of permissible NOx emissions fall sharply from 180mg/km (set in the Euro-5 standard) to 80mg/km.
However, many environmental groups including Greenpeace have challenged the effectiveness of this standard, pointing out that following the emergence of the Dieselgate scandal and Euro-6 being introduced, there was a two year period from September 2015 to September 2017 during which the RDE (Real Driving Emissions) tests (those set up to combat the inefficiency and inaccuracy of car manufacturers’ own laboratory testing) had no NOx limits (Conformity Factor) assigned. This means that many vehicles manufactured during the two-year interim could have entered the European market, and thereby European roads, despite the fact that these same vehicles would fail any RDE test conducted today.
If this is found to be true, it will only further emphasise that the VW Dieselgate was the first in a series of alarms showing that there is a substantial, ongoing problem with diesel vehicle emissions exceeding EU standards in Europe. Which is why it is crucial that mislead diesel car owners have the right to compensation, regardless of how many manufacturers are involved – and that those parties in violation of EU legislation are held accountable.