Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller confirmed in a speech made to managers on Monday that the automaker was ready with a fix for most of the four-cylinder diesel engines discovered in September to have been fitted with “defeat device” software designed to fool regulators about the true level of emissions being emitted. The software would switch on performance-sapping emissions control systems whenever onboard computers determined an emissions test was being conducted.
A copy of the speech obtained by The Guardian revealed that regulators in Germany had signed off on a software update to fix 2.0-liter engines in Europe. The regulator also had given a “basic go” to a fix for 1.6-liter engines; the fix requires changes to the air filter and grille in addition to new software. A fix for 1.2-liter engines affected by the emissions cheating scandal is still being readied.
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In the United States, 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesel engines from VW have been discovered to be in violation of EPA standards. Although VW admitted to having installed the defeat devices on the 2.0-liter engines, the automaker is still determining the extent to which the 3.0-liter engines are affected. The 2.0-liter engines were fitted to models from the VW and Audi brands while the 3.0-liter engines were fitted to several Audis plus the VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne SUVs.
Also on Monday, VW confirmed it had submitted proposals for a fix for the 2.0-liter engines in the U.S. to the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board, and that these proposals are now under review. Any fix will not only need to remedy the emissions issue but also address the safety, drivability, vehicle durability and fuel efficiency of the cars involved. If the fix is approved, VW will work with regulators to develop a national recall plan, which could start early next year.
2015 Audi Q7 TDI
As for the 3.0-liter engines, Audi, which developed the unit, recently met with the EPA and CARB to discuss the issue and on Monday said it will submit for U.S. approval a software update that will see the affected engines return to the right side of the regulations. The software update will be installed as soon as it receives approval from the regulators.
The issue with the 3.0-liter engines is not the same as the one afflicting the 2.0-liter engines, Audi said in a statement. Audi says there are three different pieces of software, which it refers to as “Auxiliary Emission Control Devices,” that are currently on the wrong side of regulations, and only one of these is regarded as a defeat device according to U.S. regulations—it relates to temperature conditioning of the exhaust‑gas cleaning system.
The 3.0-liter engines are found in the TDI versions of the Audi A6, A7, A8, Q5 and Q7 from the 2009 model year onward. VW used the engine in the Touareg and Porsche used it in the Cayenne since the 2013 model year. A voluntary stop-sale order for the vehicles already in place is being extended until further notice.
To view our past coverage on the VW Group's emissions cheating scandal, head to our Volkswagen news hub.