VW's Audi suspends two engineers in air pollution cheatware probe
In brief Volkswagen-owned Audi has suspended two engineers after it emerged the luxury brand's diesel engines had emissions test cheatware installed.
In early November, the US government's environmental watchdog accused VW of adding the standards-evading software to its three-litre V6 engines, which have been used in flash Audi and Porsche motors since 2009.
Volkswagen initially denied the hardware was programmed to cheat in lab conditions, but then last week told American regulators 85,000 Audi-built vehicles were running some form of the cheatware.
The software – found in millions of diesel Volkswagens – lowers the amount of poisonous nitrogen oxide pumped out by the cars during laboratory examinations, allowing the vehicles to pass tests that ensure they're keeping under standard air pollution limits. When the vehicles are outside the lab, performance is ramped up, and so is the amount of NO emitted into the atmosphere.
Now, we're told, two engineers have been suspended amid an internal probe. Audi CEO Rupert Stadler told a German newspaper that the techies had repeatedly insisted that the three-litre V6 did not contain test-defeating code, but apparently changed their story during a board meeting.
“I asked them: Is that a defeat device?” Stadler told Donaukurier on Thursday.
“And then they said, ‘We have to assume that in the US part of the software that controls the [engine] heating function can probably be considered a defeat device'.”
The suspensions takes the number of VW employees known to have been put on leave to eight; the other six are understood to be senior managers. Volkswagen America CEO Michael Horn earlier blamed the scandal on just "a couple of software engineers."
In Germany, the transport watchdog Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt apparently does not have a problem with the V6 engine's software. ®