The Volkswagen Group faces new challenges in selling diesel-powered Porsche and Audi utility vehicles in the state of California.
The California Air Resources Board today sent an In Use Compliance letter notifying Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche to start the process necessary to recall and repair illegal emissions software in all 3.0-liter diesel vehicles, model years 2009 – 2015, sold in California.
Audi has played up the performance advantages of the 3.0-liter diesel engines used in utility vehicles, such as the Audi Q7, and the 3.0-liter diesel is popular in Porsche’s two most popular utility vehicles, the Cayenne and Macan.
California is also the single largest market for both Audi and Porsche and the new order from CARB targeting both brands is likely to put a crimp in sales.
In addition, CARB has begun an investigation of the new 2016 Porsche and Audi vehicles powered by the 3.0-liter diesel engines.
The companies now have 45 business days or until early December to assemble their plan and deliver it to the Air Resources Board.
This action is the result of an admission by officials at Audi AG, manufacturer of all the engines involved, that the vehicles contain three undisclosed auxiliary emissions control devices designed to “defeat” emission statements, according to new information.
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The order includes a finding by the board that the engine has “illegal emissions software” that causes it to spew more pollutants on the highway than it is allowed. The recall will cover models years 2009 to 2015.
Porsche said in a statement saying it will “continue its efforts to comply fully with all regulatory authorities” and that it “awaits detailed information from engine supplier, Audi AG, as to specific actions which will be necessary to correct and recertify” the engine.
The recall order is apart from actions involving Volkswagen Group when it comes to 2.0-liter, four-cylinder diesel engines. Volkswagen Group has submitted a proposal to bring those engines up to the standard as well after an admission that software had been inserted in nearly 500,000 of them to cheat on emissions tests.
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Volkswagen is facing slowing orders for new cars, with consumers shunning purchases after the automaker admitted this month it understated fuel usage and carbon dioxide emissions, VW’s top labor representative reported.
“There is caution in buying,” the German company’s works council chief Bernd Osterloh told reporters. “The issue has triggered a greater crisis of confidence (in VW products) than the nitrogen (emissions) issue.”
A report in the German-language press over the weekend said that Volkswagen’s top executives knew a year ago that some of the company’s cars were markedly less fuel efficient than had been officially stated, Sunday paper Bild am Sonntag reported, without specifying its sources.
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The Bild am Sonntag report appears to contradict VW’s assertion that it only uncovered the false carbon dioxide emissions labeling as part of efforts to clear up the diesel emissions scandal, which became public in September.
Months after becoming aware of excessive fuel consumption, former Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn decided this spring to pull one model off the market where the discrepancy was particularly pronounced, the Polo TDI BlueMotion, the paper cited sources close to Winterkorn as saying.
A VW spokesman declined to comment on whether VW had knowledge already a year ago of overstated fuel efficiency, according to Reuters.