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More German brands recall diesels: report

Smoke screening: Independent testing by British and German government agencies has found that emissions from diesel engines are generally higher in real-world applications than lab or track testing.

Audi, Opel, Porsche, Mercedes recall 630,000 cars to fix emissions software

26 Apr 2016

AN INVESTIGATION into diesel vehicle emissions following the Volkswagen test cheat scandal has discovered that other German car-makers are using legal loopholes to reduce the effectiveness of pollutant-limiting technology under certain circumstances.

A report in United States publication Automotive News says Audi, Opel, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz will recall a total of 630,000 vehicles to correct the software, which allows nitrogen oxide emissions to spike above regulated limits to “protect engines”.

At the time of publishing, only Opel had gone on record with an official statement regarding the discovery, but instead of an admission that it exploited a legal loophole, General Motors' European arm said the effect was “well-known”.

“Both reports suggest the well-known and well-understood differences between the performance of vehicles in the current lab-based emissions test, which is in urgent need of reform, and in road test conditions,” it said.

The statement also says the car-maker is satisfied that the investigation found that it does not use a similar so-called “defeat device” that Volkswagen deliberately incorporated into engine management software to cheat during emissions tests.

“Opel welcomes the clarity provided by the report of the German government. The report confirms that our tested cars do not have any devices that recognise whether a vehicle is undergoing an exhaust Emissions Test. The report from the UK government, published yesterday, also proves this.”

The United Kingdom's department of transport conducted one of the two investigations and concluded that while no defeat devices were found in any of the tested brands, other than Volkswagen, all 37 vehicles produced more NOx than under track or lab testing.

“Our tests published today have not detected evidence of manipulation of emissions lab tests as used by the VW Group by any other car manufacturer,” it said in a statement.

Following the VW diesel scandal, European testing processes are being changed to Real Driving Emissions (RDE) testing, which samples a vehicle's emissions while under more realistic road conditions, rather than the rolling-road method that is being phased out. The UK will implement RDE next year.

Automotive News also reports that BMW is the only German brand to be found to not exploit the regulations.

So far, Volkswagen is the only car-maker that has been found to use a defeat device and is subsequently in the process of recalling about 11 million cars worldwide to fix the emissions software.

That recall has already started Down Under with owners of Amarok utes being the first to have their cars reprogrammed to remove the software that, in some cases, can increase NOx levels to more than 40 times the legal limit.

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