The Volkswagen air pollution scandal widened Monday after federal and California regulators said they had found software “defeat devices” on additional vehicles.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a second notice of violation to Volkswagen, saying defeat devices were found on the following diesel cars equipped with 3.0 liter engines: the 2014 Volkswagen Touareg, the 2015 Porsche Cayenne, and the 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L and Q5.
The California Air Resources Board said its testing confirmed the presence of the defeat devices. Air board engineers, working at the agency’s test lab in El Monte, were instrumental in finding the defeat devices on the initial round of Volkswagen cars cited by the state and federal agencies.
“VW has once again failed its obligation to comply with the law that protects clean air for all Americans,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant EPA administrator, in a prepared statement.
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The problems appear to be more limited than the first round of Volkswagen violations, which affected more than 60,000 cars in California and millions worldwide. There are about 10,000 Volkswagens on the road in the United States with 3.0 liter engines, and about 1,600 in California.
Nonetheless, officials said they are taking the matter seriously.
“This is a very serious public health matter,” said Richard Corey, the California air board’s executive officer, in a prepared statement. “These tests have raised serious concerns about the presence of defeat devices on additional VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles.”
Air board spokesman David Clegern said the 3.0 liter engines use a different technology to scrub the emissions clean, but the tests found similar problems as with the first round of vehicles. “It’s essentially the same result,” he said.
The defeat devices activate pollution-control systems when the vehicles are undergoing testing, but deactivate them on the open road. Car industry experts say the pollution-control systems can hurt fuel mileage and performance, two of the selling points of the Volkswagen diesel fleet.
The scandal has prompted lawsuits and cost Volkswagen’s chief executive his job. It’s believed the German automaker will have to spend billions of dollars fixing the affected cars.