Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency accused Volkswagen of installing emissions-test-cheating software on a new range of vehicles from VW, Audi, and Porsche. Those brands have now pulled suspect vehicles from showrooms until additional testing sheds light on the allegations.
But here's the funny thing: the companies have issued stop-sale orders for more models than the EPA red-flagged.
To recap: in late September, Volkswagen admitted that it had equipped some 11 million Audi, Porsche, Seat, Skoda, and VW diesel vehicles with software designed to cheat on emissions tests.
When Volkswagen's software determines that a vehicle is being tested, it engages the full suite of emissions controls, but it turns them off again when the test is over. With the controls disabled, vehicles can spew up to 40 times the legal limit of emissions into the air.
CHECK OUT: Hyundai Makes Genesis A Luxury Brand
Following its admission of guilt, Volkswagen issued a stop-sale for new diesel vehicles in the U.S., and it withdrew applications for approval of 2016 models for the time being. There's no word on when it will attempt to have those vehicles inspected by the EPA, nor has the company indicated precisely when or how it will fix affected models already on the road. Though a software upgrade could solve the emissions issue, it would negatively impact performance, which would likely spawn even more lawsuits than the company currently faces.
The list of vehicles affected by the scandal includes:
- 2009–2015 Audi A3 TDI
- 2009–2015 VW Beetle TDI
- 2009–2015 VW Beetle Convertible TDI
- 2009–2015 VW Golf TDI
- 2015 VW Golf Sportwagen TDI
- 2009–2015 VW Jetta TDI
- 2009-2014 VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI
- 2012–2015 VW Passat TDI.
Approximately 482,000 of those cars are registered in the U.S. The bulk are found in Europe.
Until this week, Volkswagen had insisted that the only vehicles equipped with the dodgy software are those with 2.0-liter engines. Heavier-duty diesels with 3.0-liter engines aren't affected.
The only problem is, they are.
This week, the EPA charged Volkswagen of installing similar emissions-cheating software on 3.0-liter vehicles. The list of models tainted by the new allegations includes:
- 2016 Audi A6 Quattro
- 2016 Audi A7 Quattro
- 2016 Audi A8
- 2016 Audi A8L
- 2016 Audi Q5
- 2015 Porsche Cayenne
- 2014 VW Touareg
Porsche put out a short statement suggesting that it was surprised by the accusations, while reps at Volkswagen vehemently denied the EPA's findings. Audi remained silent. None of the three issued stop-sales for any models on their lots.
Now, that's changed. Audi, Porsche, and VW have all issued stop-sales on a number of new and certified pre-owned models, including:
- 2014 Audi A6
- 2013-2014 Audi A7
- 2014 Audi A8
- 2014 Audi Q5
- 2014 Audi Q7
- 2014 Porsche Cayenne
- 2013-2014 VW Touareg
- 2015-16 Audi A6
- 2015-2016 Audi A7
- 2015-2016 Audi A8
- 2015-2016 Audi Q5
- 2015-2016 Audi Q7
- 2015-2016 Porsche Cayenne
- 2015-16 VW Touareg
Volkswagen hasn't yet issued a statement about the stop-sale orders and why more model-years (and the Audi Q7) are included. However, an Audi spokesperson has said that the issue for 3.0 liter engines is different from 2.0-liter models. Expect this story to develop in surprising ways.
Bottom line: if you're waiting to purchase a late-model diesel from Audi, Porsche, or VW, bring a book.
For more on this story, be sure to check out our colleagues at Green Car Reports.