New reports from media outlets in Germany suggest that Audi was deeply involved in the Volkswagen Dieselgate emissions cheating scandal. In September 2015, Volkswagen admitted that it had installed a software “defeat device” on millions of VW and Audi “clean diesel” models in an effort to conceal the high emissions levels of these vehicles from regulators and consumers.
According to reports by the German public broadcasters NDR and WDR and the daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, four of Audi’s top engineers have been suspended in connection with the Dieselgate scandal. The three media outlets report that the engineers either helped to develop the emissions cheating software found on 11 million Audi and VW “TDI Clean Diesel” models or knew about the existence of this software.
The defeat device found on the affected TDI models was designed to lower the vehicles’ emissions during testing to make it appear that the cars emitted lower levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) than they actually did. Under normal driving conditions, the vehicles could emit levels of NOx that were up to 40 times higher than the maximum level allowed by the EPA. In July 2016, Volkswagen agreed to pay $14.7 billion to settle lawsuits filed in the United States by VW and Audi owners over the company’s diesel emissions cheating. The settlement was the largest ever for a consumer class action lawsuit in the U.S.
The suspended engineers include Audi’s director of technical development, Stefan Knirsch. News of Knirsch’s suspension came just one day after the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported that the engineer would be taking a “leave of absence” from Audi. Reports on Knirsch’s suspension report that evidence of his involvement with the Dieselgate scandal was “overwhelming.”
Evidence of Audi’s Role in Dieselgate Emissions Cheating
Investigators say that they have uncovered numerous pieces of evidence demonstrating Audi’s involvement with diesel emissions cheating at Volkswagen. In a 2007 email written by an Audi engineer to a group of Volkswagen executives, the engineer wrote that it would be impossible for Audi and VW to meet emissions requirements in the U.S. “completely without cheating.”
Investigators also uncovered numerous other pieces of evidence suggesting that Audi was heavily involved in emissions cheating connected to the Dieselgate scandal. Audi engineers were so integral to VW’s diesel emissions cheating that the company was reportedly referred to with the Volkswagen Group as the “mother of the fraud.”
Lawsuits Against Audi Over Alleged CO2 Emissions Cheating
Audi has also faced accusations of CO2 emissions cheating in connection with its own gasoline-powered vehicles. According to several class action lawsuits against Audi, the automaker installed a defeat device on several gasoline models that was designed to conceal the high carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of these vehicles.
The vehicles that were allegedly involved in Audi’s CO2 emissions cheating include the 2012-2016 Audi A6, A8, Q5 and Q7 models with 3.0 liter gasoline engine and an AL 551 automatic transmission. The 2012-2016 Audi S4, S5, S6, and S7 gasoline models with a DL 501 automatic transmission were also equipped with the software. Additional testing on Audi vehicles may reveal additional models that were equipped with an emissions defeat device.
Drivers who own or lease one of the affected Audi automatic gasoline models equipped with a defeat device may experience excessive fuel costs as a result of the high emissions levels of their vehicles. Vehicle owners may also see a decline in the value of their cars as a result of Audi’s emissions cheating, including a reduction in the resale value of their vehicle.
Audi Owners May Qualify to File a Lawsuit
Audi owners who purchased or leased one of the vehicles affected by the company’s CO2 emissions cheating may be eligible to file a lawsuit. The first step in taking legal action is to talk with an attorney to learn more about your legal rights and find out if your qualify to file a case.
The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have represented hundreds of Volkswagen and Audi owners in the Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) in California against Volkswagen in connection with the Dieselgate scandal. One of our partners, Michael Heygood, was named to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee that has helped to oversee the Volkswagen MDL on behalf of VW and Audi diesel owners nationwide.
For more information about the Audi CO2 scandal and to find out whether you may be eligible to file a case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few brief questions to get started.