The difference this time is that gasoline engines might also be the cheaters.
There’s nothing more heartwarming than seeing old rivals share technology between one another for the good of the driver. It’s why the Chevy Camaro ZL1 and Ford F-150 Raptor have the same ten-speed automatic transmission and why the Audi R8 and Lamborghini Huracan are both equally capable of filling drivers with joy. The dark side of technology partnerships, however, may have just been uncovered by the German Transport Minister, as German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche claims.
The report charges Porsche with including steering wheel angle recognition software that allow the vehicles in question to emit more pollutants if the sensor detects the wheel is turned more than 15 degrees. Of course, that’s illegal because it effectively places the gadget into the “defeat device” category. In real world use, 15 degrees is a very slight turn, amounting to a jostling of the front wheels. During testing it’s unlikely that the wheel would be turned at all, in which case the software would keep the Porsche emitting the legal amount of pollutants until someone turns the wheel and makes the system think the car is driving on the road. That's when it gives the all clear signal to pollute more... Allegedly.
The part where technology sharing comes into play happened last week, when Audi was accused of using the exact same steering wheel detection system on diesel A7s and A8s, prompting a recall of 24,000 TDI models in Europe. While the authorities claim Audi’s issue stems from the use of a defeat device, the automaker says that it’s actually due to faulty transmission software. A clear answer has yet to be found. The German magazine didn’t make it clear which models were the offenders, but Porsche immediately denied the allegations. "We can confirm for all Porsche models: We are not using steering movements for the sake of detecting a test bench driving cycle and reacting to it," Porsche said in an email to Reuters.
What makes this incident different than Audi’s or that of the rest of the Volkswagen group, at least according to Motor1, is that there’s a chance Porsche is using cheat software on its gasoline vehicles instead of solely reserving it for dirtier diesels. If such a device is found on gas-powered cars, it could reopen investigations into the rest of Volkswagen AG’s lineup. That’s a can of worms ze Germans are sure to want to leave closed. Let’s pray Volkswagen’s lapse of judgement didn’t go this far because we’re quite excited for some upcoming Porsches and would hate to see them hindered by the fallout of another international scandal.