Cheating on the Test
Porsche and Audi Join VW Emissions Scandal

It’s the scandal that keeps on giving. U.S. regulators now say they’ve uncovered dubious emissions testing results from Porsche and Audi vehicles, two luxury brands owned by the already scandal-ridden German carmaker Volkswagen. VW responded to the EPA by saying that the testing abnormalities were the result of a “software function which had not been adequately described in the application process.” In other words: Nothing to see here, folks. For its part, Porsche went with the ignorance defense, insisting that “[u]ntil this notice, all of our information was that the Porsche Cayenne diesel is fully compliant.” The NYT has more:

The new revelations escalate the potential damage to Volkswagen’s finances and reputation. Audi and Porsche are the source of most of the company’s earnings, because profit margins tend to be higher on luxury cars. In contrast to Volkswagen brand cars, which have struggled in the United States, Audi and Porsche are success stories in North America, which is the biggest market for Porsche. […]

[I]n a six-page letter explaining its findings, the E.P.A. described in detail a mechanism it says was set up to intentionally beat emissions testing. It said the devices were not described in the vehicles’ certification application and were set up to defeat a federal emission test procedure known as FTP 75.

The agency said the new tests found that Volkswagen had installed the devices in some Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche diesel cars with 3.0-liter engines, encompassing model years 2014 through 2016.

From the very beginning, this scandal has had an air of “things are going to get worse before they get better” hanging over it, and the fallout has only shown the widespread deceit to be worse than it initially appeared. It’s clear that this isn’t an isolated phenomenon, either. A recent study showed a wide discrepancy in a number of makes of vehicles between measured mileage in testing and that measured on the road, while European watchdogs have long complained of unrealistic vehicle testing conditions.

But this is more than just a stark example of unscrupulous corporate cynicism. It’s a reminder that as the world comes to grips with the dangers posed by climate change and humanity’s culpability for it, the profit motive to market products as “green” and “clean” is only going to grow—and that, as that happens, we need to be wary of those looking to dupe regulators in order to make a quick buck. In the meantime, if it sounds too green to be true, it probably is.

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