Starting with Volkswagen, manufacturing both VW and Audi cars, it came to light in 2014 that manufacturers had been cheating emissions tests using special software in their vehicles. Audi cars were part of the diesel emissions scandal.
Vehicle emissions are a necessary evil. When your car burns diesel, emissions come in the form of toxic nitrogen oxide. Higher levels of emissions are likely to occur in the most high-performance vehicles, with more powerful cars treading a fine line in diesel emissions tests.
Many Audi cars were part of the diesel emissions scandal when it was discovered that vehicle manufacturers had intentionally broken the law.
Read on to find out more about the Audi diesel emissions scandal.
- – The diesel emissions scandal explained
- – Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal
- – Mercedes diesel emissions compensation claim
- – Can I still claim compensation for the emissions scandal?
We update all our guides regularly. If you are researching the Diesel Emissions scandal or compensation and we haven’t got an exact guide that helps you, keep coming back as we update daily.
What Are Diesel Emissions?
When your car burns fuel, emissions are the chemicals that get left behind. These must be removed from the vehicle, pumped into the air through the exhaust. In a diesel car, the most notable of these is toxic nitrogen oxide.
Nitrogen oxide is a greenhouse gas, damaging the ozone layer. It’s not good for humans, either often being linked to childhood asthma and respiratory problems. The eyes can also be affected by nitrogen oxide.
Emissions increase when fuel is burned at a higher temperature. This is also where you’ll get the best car performance and the best fuel economy. Lowering combustion temperatures will decrease diesel emissions but at the cost of fuel economy and power.
Manufacturers must balance performance and emissions, making sure that the cars they produce have emissions within the legal limits.
There are different emissions limits in different countries. In Europe, nitrogen oxide emissions should not go above 0.080g/km. This should apply throughout the journey, with emissions levels never increasing beyond this maximum level.
What Is a Vehicle Emissions Test?
Manufactured cars go through the process of vehicle emissions tests. These are designed to check levels of emissions and make sure they’re within legal limits. In the UK and Europe, that legal limit is 0.080g/km for nitrogen oxide.
Vehicles will only make their way onto the market if they’ve passed their emissions tests, showing that nitrogen oxide emissions are at (or below) approved levels. Or, at least, that’s the theory.
What Was the Diesel Emissions Scandal?
With access to information about test conditions, manufacturers found ways to manipulate results through their cars produced high levels of emissions. They used defeat devices, adding software to their vehicles so that the car’s behaviour would change.
In 2013, the International Council on Clean Transportation was commissioned to carry out research into emissions. They started with VW cars, manufactured by Volkswagen, who also produce Audi vehicles.
Testing these cars in real-world conditions, they found that diesel emissions were a lot higher than expected. In some cases, up to 40% higher than they’d been recorded in tests. It was quickly determined that this wasn’t an accident, but something that had happened intentionally.
Before announcing their finding, researchers continued by testing other car makes and models. They uncovered a widespread scandal, finding that many car manufacturers had been manipulating test results.
When they first announced their findings in 2014, far from immediately resolving the problem, some companies took different approaches. Volkswagen recalled many of their vehicles to make defeat devices harder to detect.
How Does a Defeat Device Work?
Defeat devices work in different ways but have been designed to intentionally lead to better results in emissions tests. The software installed will temporarily affect the behaviour of a car. Usually, it does this by lowering the temperature, decreasing performance and emissions.
Manufacturers knew how the tests were carried out, often in laboratory conditions. They could program cars to have lower emissions when they were tested and not moving, or when the movement was slow and showed that a car was being driven somewhere other than the road. When it reached higher speeds, the car’s performance would improve, and emissions levels would rise.
In some cases, defeat devices would work for a specific trip distance. Usually, they worked for the first 15 miles, letting the car move to a normal performance from the 16th mile of any trip. This is because tests in the US included 15 miles of road driving.
Volkswagen put defeat devices in many of its manufactured vehicles. These included their Audi cars, many of which got through emissions tests that they actually shouldn’t have passed.
How Many Audi Cars Were Affected?
Even after Volkswagen had been caught, Audi cars with defeat devices continued to be sold around the world. It’s now thought that 80,000 cars were affected in the US. Around the world, the total is close to 850,000 vehicles.
Some cars affected were only produced after the scandal came to light, which means that there are some cars being recalled that were sold after 2014.
In Germany, Audi received an €800 million fine for breaching diesel emissions standards.
What’s Next for Audi Diesel Emissions?
Finally, it seems that Audi cars are within legal limits of diesel emissions once again. In the meantime, thousands of Audi owners have been impacted by defeat devices. Their cars may have been unsafe, and any subsequent recalls may affect vehicle performance.
If you believe you’ve been affected, your car may be subject to a recall. You may also be able to claim compensation for the Audi diesel emissions scandal and its impact on you.
What Happens in Future Tests?
Lessons have been learned. To reduce the risk of defeat devices being used in future, cars are now tested very differently. Current car emissions tests are far more stringent, with vehicles tested in real-world conditions including extensive road driving. Cars are really put through their paces, reducing the chance of vehicle manufacturers getting away with the use of manipulative software in future.
Is There Audi Diesel Emissions Scandal Compensation?
If you believe that you were affected by the Audi diesel emissions scandal, you might want to be part of a compensation claim. You’ll be claiming against Volkswagen, the company behind the Audi luxury car brand.
In May 2020, a motorist received compensation for diesel emissions. They claimed compensation through the German Federal Court of Justice. Though Volkswagen claims that this ruling does not apply to other motorists and that it won’t affect UK car owners, it does pave the way for other drivers that want to take legal action.
Following the ruling, Volkswagen announced that those affected in Germany would receive automatic payments. So far, this offer has not been extended to residents of other countries.
You may be able to claim compensation if your Audi car might have been affected. If you do, you won’t be alone. Tens of thousands of motorists are thought to be involved in compensation claims so far, though verdicts will not be handed out until at least 2022. This means that there’s still time to be involved if you’d like to add your name to a claim.
The best way to claim compensation is to get involved in a group claim. Search for law firms that are representing large numbers of affected consumers. There’s strength in numbers, with many law firms fighting for Audi compensation.
Has Your Audi Car Been Recalled?
If your car was fitted with a defeat device, it will be involved in a recall. Recalls must deactivate defeat devices, as well as making sure that your car’s emissions are now genuinely within legal limits.
The cost of repairs or adjustments to your car will be covered by Audi. You’ll need to book your car in for any changes to be carried out at an approved workshop.
To find out if your car is part of a recall, enter your car’s registration number on the Audi Emissions Recall website.
Quick Diesel Emissions FAQs
If your car was part of the diesel emissions scandal, then you might be able to claim compensation and get back a proportion of the purchase price. For most people, compensation will be anything from 25% to 100% of the vehicle value.
Car manufacturers have already had to pay fines and penalties for their behaviour. These include $4.3 billion paid by Volkswagen and 870 million euros by Mercedes-Benz. On top of these corporate fines, manufacturers must act to make things right for the consumers that have been affected.
A defeat device includes a piece of software that changes how a car behaves. Manufacturers like Volkswagen are not incapable of producing a road-legal vehicle, though they recognise that a road-legal car may lack some excitement and appeal. Lower emissions require some performance sacrifice, making a car look less impressive to the consumer.
Defeat devices temporarily reduce the emissions produced by a car. In the US, where the research was carried out, emissions tests were conducted over a total distance of 15 miles. Volkswagen could get around this problem by setting their cars to have lower emissions until they reached a trip’s 16th mile.
Other defeat devices led to lower emissions if a car wasn’t moving, or if it was moving at low speed. These unrealistic driving conditions were often a sign that vehicles were under test conditions.
Cars are tested to make sure that their emissions don’t have high levels of nitrogen oxide. These tests are carried out to keep people safe, with vehicles only passing the test if they stay below the maximum limit. In the UK and Europe, nitrogen oxide should not go above 0.080g/km. That’s considered an acceptable level of emissions for diesel cars.
In the past, it was public knowledge about how car emissions tests were carried out. Vehicle manufacturers had access to this information.
It all started with Volkswagen, in both their VW and Audi cars. Later, similar discrepancies were found in several other makes including Volvo, Renault, Jeep and Citroën.
Limiting emissions meant limiting a car’s performance. Volkswagen had put defeat devices in around 11 million cars, even admitting that when they were first found out they simply recalled cars to improve defeat devices rather than fixing their emissions levels.
They thought they could get away with it by making the scammed results harder to identify, rather than just being honest and resolving it properly.
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