Audi software can distort emissions in tests, VW says

Sun Nov 13, 2016 1:21pm EST
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BERLIN (Reuters) - Audi cars with automatic transmissions have technology capable of distorting emissions when they are tested, Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) said, as its luxury flagship is battling allegations over a reported discovery of a new cheat software device.

Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper said a week ago that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) had this summer discovered cheating software in an older Audi model, which is unrelated to the device that triggered last year's diesel emissions test-cheating scandal at parent VW.

The software in CARB's discovery lowered carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by detecting whether a car's steering wheel was turned as it would be when driving on a road and was used in diesel and petrol models in Europe for years, Bild had said.

"Adaptive shift programs can lead to incorrect and non-reproducible results" when the cars are tested, VW said by email on Sunday in response to an article published in Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Saturday.

If the software that controlled the automatic transmissions of certain Audi models detected testing conditions, the cars shifted more rapidly and in a way that would lower emissions of CO2 as well as nitric oxides, Sueddeutsche Zeitung said, citing a confidential VW document.

"Audi has explained the technical backgrounds of adaptive shift programs to the Federal Motor Vehicle Authority KBA and has made available technical information," VW said, adding there will be more talks with the KBA, which has been commissioned by the German government to investigate the reported irregularities at Audi.

So-called adaptive transmission control is intended to provide better performance by improving fuel economy and reducing shifting frequency, experts say.

"In normal use, these adaptive systems support the driver by adjusting the gear-shifting points to best adapt to each driving situation," VW said.

Earlier on Sunday, Bild reported that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had opened an investigation into Audi over the latest reported software discovery and next week will hear senior VW group engineers, without elaborating.   Continued...

An Audi logo is seen at the Mondial de l'Automobile, Paris auto show, during media day in Paris, France, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen