Volkswagen Dieselgate update: Audi gas models may have defeat devices, too

November 14, 2016

Until last week, Volkswagen's ongoing Dieselgate scandal seemed a lot like the U.S. presidential election. It was contentious, it inflamed passions on both sides, and it was fueled by a never-ending series of leaks and revelations.

The difference? The presidential election ended Tuesday night, but there's no end in sight for Dieselgate--not at this rate, anyway. Here's a roundup of the latest stomach-churning headlines:

1. Audi gas models may have been cheating, too: Over 100,000 owners of Audi A6, A8, Q5, and Q7 vehicles have filed a lawsuit claiming that their gas-powered vehicles were designed to cheat on emissions tests, just like their diesel-sipping siblings. According to documents filed in a Chicago federal court, the software on those vehicles detects when a car is being tested for emissions, then "[keeps] the engine RPM artificially low, thereby using less fuel and emitting less carbon dioxide".

Worse? Audi was allegedly using that software as recently as May. Sounds like this is the software that was initially believed related to diesels.

And worse still? This may be the first time we've seen a defeat device designed to emit more carbon dioxide. (The defeat devices on Volkswagen diesels had to do with nitrogen oxide.) Audi has yet to comment on the lawsuit.

2. California upping penalties for emissions cheats: The California Air Resources Board says that it's going to crack down on automakers found to be using defeat devices. Why now, 14 months after Dieselgate became a thing? Apparently, the discovery that gas-powered vehicles are also included was enough to send CARB over the edge.

3. Volkswagen may have destroyed documents: The U.S. Department of Justice is conducting a thorough criminal investigation of Volkswagen, and it believes that the automaker destroyed Dieselgate-related documents after news of its defeat devices first made headlines in September 2015. This isn't the first we've heard of this, FYI.

4. Illinois becomes the 19th state to sue Volkswagen over diesel emissions: Surely there'll be a few more, right?

5. Michigan wants to benefit from Volkswagen's zero-emission funds: Remember Volkswagen's $15.4 billion settlement related to 2.0-liter Audi and VW diesels? Remember how it included $2 billion that Volkswagen was required to spend on research and development of zero-emission technology? Well, Michigan does--and it wants to make sure some of the funded projects are based in the Wolverine State.

6. Volkswagen distances itself from historian who wrote about the company's Nazi links: Volkswagen has a long, bumpy road ahead of it, and it's doing everything in its power to improve its image--including adding a new SUV for Americans and setting aggressive electrification goals. So it's probably no surprise that the company has parted ways with its historian who liked to write about Volkswagen's cozy relationship with the Nazi government.

Note: for purposes of clarity, "Volkswagen" has been used to refer to the Volkswagen Group parent company, while "VW" has been used to refer to the company's popular mass-market brand of automobiles.

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