According to German press reports, Volkswagen has been exposed for operating a separate and more sophisticated emissions cheat program in its diesel powered Porsches. Software in Porsche’s Cayenne diesel SUV detects whether the vehicle is in a testing lab or on the road, Germany’s Spiegel Magazine reported after consulting German software experts and product safety inspectors. 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 alerted to the new and improved “Dieselgate 2.0” software by a whistleblower who 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.”
According to the whistleblower[s] the Porsche Cayenne has two driving modes, one for ordinary road conditions and one for closed environment lab testing. In test mode, the car selects higher gears and optimizes engine output for reduced fuel consumption and reduced exhaust output. However, says Der Spiegel, “in 99% of all situations” the Cayenne picks a more aggressive, higher polluting program. In that mode, the Cayenne emitted 68% more NOx than allowed by EU law, according to independent product safety testing agents.
Where VW’s 2.0/3.0L cheat software studied steering angle to detect road vs dynometer test conditions, the Dieselgate 2.0 software reportedly registers g-forces and angle of attitude. The vehicle’s default startup setting is clean mode. And the engine computer holds that setting until the vehicle is moved. For example, subjecting the vehicle to lateral turning forces or attitude change triggers the computer to exit clean mode. According to reports, lifting the nose of the vehicle to simulate an incline triggers the Cayenne computer to switch into dirty mode and maintain that setting until powered off.
The new scandal, which is only beginning to unfold, comes on the heels of the German government accusing Audi of cheating on emissions tests with its top-end models. The involved models (Audi A7 and A8) share diesel engines with the Porsche Cayenne. Audi claims it committed an unintentional technical error.
Furthermore, the scandal at Porsche also could affect Volkswagen’s new CEO Matthias Muller as he was CEO of Porsche from 2010 through late 2015. Porsche introduced the current model Cayenne in 2010.
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