The so-called “defeat device” used to help millions of Volkswagen diesel vehicles illegally pass emissions tests was first developed in 1999 by the maker’s luxury arm Audi, according to a report published today by the German newspaper Handelsblatt.
The technology, which could detect when a vehicle is undergoing emissions tests and then modify certain engine functions to clean up the exhaust, was not put into use by Audi, however. It was instead adopted six years later by the Volkswagen brand when it was unable to meet toughened U.S. clean air standards.
That decision came back to haunt the German giant. Last September, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accused VW of rigging more than 400,000 vehicles sold in the U.S. – the maker subsequently confirming it used the illegal software on 11 million vehicles sold worldwide. It is now facing a raft of lawsuits in the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world and may eventually pay billions of dollars in fines and legal settlements. (more…)