It seems U.S. authorities aren’t done investigating diesel-powered Volkswagens for emissions-cheating software: Reuters reports that another—and previously undiscovered—piece of emissions-thwarting software has been discovered in the 3.0-liter TDI V-6 engine used in the Volkswagen Touareg, Audi Q7, and Porsche Cayenne SUVs.
The news originates from German newsweekly Bild am Sonntag, which does not reveal its source for the information. According to the report, three unapproved pieces of software allowed the affected vehicles to shut down their emissions control systems after 22 minutes of driving. Theoretically, this would allow the vehicles to pass government emissions tests, which usually last for around 20 minutes, but emit unrestricted pollutants in real-world driving. This is in addition to previously disclosed software used on the 3.0-liter TDI engine which VW admitted was used to make affected vehicles pass government emissions tests, but shut down the emissions controls in real-world driving.
It’s a cheat tactic that is relatively common across numerous automakers, and one that may not technically be illegal in the European Union. As Bertel Schmitt has written at Forbes, EU law allows automakers to define nearly any type of emissions shutdown software as being “necessary to protect the engine.” In Europe, diesel-powered Fiat Chrysler products have been found to use a nearly identical piece of software; both Opel and Daimler have been found using similar software that shuts off emissions controls based on ambient temperatures.
Such lenient “engine protection” loopholes are not included in U.S. vehicle emissions laws. Roughly 85,000 Audi, Porsche and VW SUVs have been sold in the U.S. market with the affected 3.0-liter TDI engine. While VW Group has offered a program to fix or buy back cheating diesel vehicles powered by the 2.0-liter four-cylinder TDI engine in the U.S., such a deal has not been reached for vehicles powered by the 3.0-liter TDI V6.