Audi has been embroiled in the Volkswagen emissions scandal since the very beginning. Obviously because VW owns Audi. But the extent was never really known. Sure the ECU cheats were passed down because VW and Audi share many parts on their cars, but was there more to it than that?
Apparently yes as the United States just caught Audi in something previously unknown about exactly what they were doing. On top of the ECU cheats, Audi was just discovered to have a transmission program that helped the cheat go even further than was previously known before. Here’s how it works.
When the Audi starts up, its transmission engages a ‘low CO2′ program, shifting gears in such a way as to keep engine revs and emissions artificially low. If the steering wheel is turned more than 15 degrees, the car deactivates the program and shifts in its normal, more pollutant fashion that burns more gas and produces more CO2.
Audi figured that the only time the car would run with the steering wheel never moving would be in a lab, on a test bed. This is a similar philosophy to the classic ‘dyno mode’ cheat that kicked off Dieselgate. It’s so simple, and apparently it was enough to get Audis to pass emissions tests in lab situations they might have never passed in real world conditions.
The cheat was only implemented on cars with an automatic transmission with an internal designation AL 551. This appears to be a particular variant of the eight-speed unit Audi sources from transmission supplier ZF, set up for Quattro models.
So it wasn’t just ECUs that were the problem, it is much much deeper than that and it could be hiding in nooks and crannies of the programming language, as stated above, that would be involved with the transmission and steering. This is way bigger than anyone thought.
What does this mean for VW and moving forward with any more investigations? Well much like many other investigations, this could blow open this entire scandal once again and lead to more sanctions/fines/restrictions on futur VW and Audi products specifically in the US. That’s pure speculation, but now that this information is public, it’s not looking good for Audi.
More as we have it.
(Image and content source: Jalopnik)