A

Audi built VW’s “defeat device” software, though never used it

Apparently, after some digging was done, it’s been learned that Audi was actually responsible for developing the “defeat device” software that Volkswagen was caught using to trick emissions testing on its diesel engines last year. Audi developed this software in 1999, but it had a far less malicious intent than to cheat emissions, as it was just a software feature that turned off a certain function of its diesel engines during testing.

The function was known as an “acoustic function”, which altered the diesel engine to make it run more quietly, as back in the ’90s, diesel engines were quite loud and crude. As a result of this function, the engines would produce slightly more nitrogen-oxide in its emissions. The function wouldn’t run all the time, but while it did, the engine would fail emissions.

2016 Audi A3 TDI Sportback (US-spec)
2016 Audi A3 TDI Sportback

So Audi developed a software tweak to shut the function off during testing so that it would pass. While that’s still cheating, it isn’t as malicious as what VW did. Plus, Audi never actually put that software into production. Audi just went ahead with its engines the way they were and everything was fine. Audi ended up taking the high road. However, many of the engineers who worked on that software moved over to Volkswagen in years following.

While this report comes from the German business magazine, Handelsblatt, Green Car Reports tried reaching out to Audi about this and their spokesperson, Mark Clothier, was unable to comment due to this still being an ongoing investigation. It looks as if Audi built a monster accidentally that Volkswagen ended up using. Blame can’t be placed at Audi for implementing it, as the Ingolstadt-based brand never actually put it in a production car. And I’m sure things like this “defeat device” are developed all the time behind closed doors, from all companies, and then are scrapped. Unfortunately for Audi, after it was scrapped, Volkswagen took it out of the bin and used it.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.