Audi Is Already Getting Sued Over Its Alleged New Emissions Cheat

One of the relevant Audis: a Q7 with the 3.0 liter V6 and eight-speed automatic. Photo Credit: Audi
One of the relevant Audis: a Q7 with the 3.0 liter V6 and eight-speed automatic. Photo Credit: Audi

On Sunday we found out that Audi, while it was in the midst of getting investigated for cheating on its diesel emissions, apparently also had another secret kind of defeat device in its gasoline-engined cars using a trick with the transmission and steering wheel. And already, Audi’s getting sued for it.

This alleged trickery uses programming in a particular AL551 eight-speed automatic transmission sourced from ZF. It’s a mode that keeps engine revs unnaturally low and curtails how much fuel the car burns and how much exhaust it produces. The mode turns off when the car detects the steering wheel has been turned more than 15 degrees. Basically, the car knows when it’s on a stationary emissions-testing rig and has secret programming for just this time.


The transmission and this programming was used on Audi’s big cars with all-wheel drive including the A8, the Q5 and the Q7. Audi stopped using the cheat this spring, but we don’t exactly know how long the company was engaged in it, as we learned from reporting in Germany’s Bild Am Sonntag, sourced from the California Air Resources Board. Apparently this whole thing was quite a surprise for the Germans.

And so now Audi’s getting sued for it. This is a class-action suit for all those owners of cars affected by Audi’s supposed new cheat, specifically naming 3.0-liter gasoline engine equipped cars with the aforementioned automatic transmission. You can find the full details here if you think you could be included. For the rest of us, let’s take in this line, pointed out by Automotive News and posted in full in Business Wire:

“Throughout the yearlong Dieselgate scandal, Audi chose to continue to deceive consumers across the country with yet another emissions-cheating device installed in even more of its vehicles,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman. “This kind of flagrant disregard for federal environmental regulations and consumers’ expectations is unacceptable, and we intend to hold Audi to the law on behalf of those who overpaid for Audi’s noncompliant, polluting cars.”


So Audi is getting sued for possibly cheating while being prosecuted for a different cheat. Things do not look good for Volkswagen Group’s American operations.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

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This and Diesel gate are exactly what happens when the engineers are told that they need to hit fuel economy numbers, but also can’t reduce the weight or increase actual efficiency. They have to cheat to keep their job.