Dieselgate 2.0: Porsche And Audi Caught Using Sophisticated Defeat Devices

Forbes Auto 14 months ago

Blew it again: Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller was CEO at Porsche when new Cayenne was introduced (Photo: CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

Volkswagen definitely is gunning for the “habitual cheater” title. Apparently, no lessons were learned when VW was involved in the biggest, and definitely most costliest cheater scandal the auto industry has ever seen. Volkswagen AG has (so far) “agreed to spend up to $25 billion in the United States to address claims from owners, environmental regulators, U.S. states and dealers, and offered to buy back about 500,000 polluting vehicles,” wrote Reuters. Volkswagen subjected itself to intrusive oversight, it even offered six mostly mid-level managers as sacrificial lambs, and vowed to go forth and sin no more.

A few months later, the sinning continues, and it has reached new levels of sophistication, reports from Germany suggest. The reports already are talking about “Dieselgate 2.0.”

Software in Porsche’s Cayenne diesel SUV “detects whether the car is on the dyno, or on the road,” Germany’s Spiegel Magazin wrote after months of intensive, careful, and costly research involving computer experts, Germany’s TÜV, and prominent lawyers. The magazine cites Martin Führ, Professor for administrative and environmental law, who declared that Porsche is using “a defeat device that is illegal according to EU law.”

Der Spiegel was put on the trail of the new and improved Dieselgate 2.0 software by a whistleblower with intimate knowledge. He characterized the new code as “working inconspicuously and much smarter than the crude software that started the scandal in the U.S.A. back in 2015.”

Basically, says the report, the Cayenne has two driving modes, “and one of them is optimized for the certification test.” In that mode, the car favors higher gears, and it optimizes engine output for fuel consumption and reduced exhaust. However, says Der Spiegel, “in 99% of all situations” the Cayenne picks a more aggressive, and definitely dirtier program. In that mode, the Cayenne emitted 68% more NOx than allowed, Germany’s TüV Nord measured.

Progress marches on at Volkswagen. Where the old version deduced from the steering angle whether the car is in the lab or not, Dieselgate 2.0 registers g-forces and angle of attitude, measurements that meanwhile can be mastered by the average smartphone. When the car is started, it goes into clean mode. Don’t move the car, nothing changes. Drive through a turn (g-force), or up a hill (attitude change), and the computer exits the environmentally responsible mode, the report said. On TüV’s dyno, all it needed was to lift the front of the car a bit to simulate an incline. The Cayenne switched into dirty mode, and stayed there, for the remainder of the test.

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