Thanks to U.S. regulators and a new consumer advocacy lawsuit, Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal now includes gasoline-powered Audis!
That, Continental still believes in rubber, the NHTSA plans on staying the course after their captain leaves the ship, and Toyota takes a knee on Superbowl LI… after the break!
VW’s diesel scandal isn’t just for diesels anymoreÂ
Volkswagen’s plot to cheat emissions tests by including defeat devices in its vehicles wasnâ€™t limited to diesel cars. Six Audi models with 3.0-liter gasoline engines have been included in a new consumer lawsuit coming out of Illinois.
In a class action on behalf of owners of more than 100,000 vehicles, the German carmakerâ€™s Audi unit was accused of installing software designed to beat emissions tests in its A6, A8, Q5 and Q7 cars since February 2013 and possibly earlier. Audi executives encouraged use of the devices in gas-powered vehicles as recently as May, eight months after the diesel cheating was publicly disclosed, according to the complaint filed Tuesday in Chicago federal court.
VW spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan and Audi spokesman Mark Clothier declined to comment on the complaint.
The lawsuit comes two weeks after U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer gave his final approval to VWâ€™s $14.7 billion settlement covering 480,000 diesel cars with 2.0-liter engines, widely seen as a benchmark achievement for the carmaker. VW still doesnâ€™t have an approved way to fix any of the 560,000 cars still polluting U.S. roads.
The new lawsuit stems from a finding â€” announced only daysÂ ago â€” that U.S. regulators had found software that altered the Audi vehicles’ shift program based on steering inputs that might indicate an emissions testing environment. This allowed the gas cars to keep engine speeds artificially low during testing, resulting in reduced fuel usage and a better emissions score.
â€œThroughout the yearlong dieselgate scandal, Audi chose to continue to deceive consumers across the country with yet another emissions-cheating device installed in even more of its vehicles,â€� said attorney Steve Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, the Seattle-based firm representing consumers. â€œThis kind of flagrant disregard for federal environmental regulations and consumersâ€™ expectations is unacceptable, and we intend to hold Audi to the law on behalf of those who overpaid for Audiâ€™s noncompliant, polluting cars.â€�
Continental expects strong final quarter after terrible Q3
Continental said it plans to see strongÂ earnings in the fourth quarter after profit fellÂ 40 percent in theÂ third.
According to Reuters, the tire maker’s pre-interest, pre-tax earnings declined to 645.2 million euros ($706 million) in the third quarter, a steep drop from the 1.07 billion recorded the previous year.
The company’s central automotive division took a 450 million euro beating from costs associated with warranty cases for unspecified products, pending antitrust proceedings, and increased research and development spending.
In a company announcement, the Continental’s finance chief, Wolfgang Schaefer, said it would continue raising spending on research and development â€” particularly projects involving EV technology.
NHTSA will stay on course after Rosekind
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s chief, Mark Rosekind, says the agency will maintain momentum after his departure. Rosekind’s NHFSA has taken a more authoritarian role, often enforcing public safety through aggressive legal means.
Automotive NewsÂ writes:
NHTSA has taken a far more aggressive enforcement role during Rosekindâ€™s tenure compared than in years past, invoking its legal powers to compel companies including General Motors, Honda, Fiat Chrysler, BMW and Takata to pay big fines and make significant reforms for violations of U.S. auto safety laws.
A major theme of Rosekindâ€™s tenure was pushing the agency and industry to adopt a more â€œproactiveâ€� approach to safety and catch and remedy defects before they become full-blown crises.
Prior to the presidential election, Rosekind hinted that he would be leaving the agency sometime before inauguration day. Despite his impending departure,Â the agency will maintain two of its three leaders during the transition into the new administration.
“[Transportation] Secretary Foxx supported us by allowing us to take an associate administrator and make her the acting deputy administrator. So when we leave, instead of two-thirds of the leadership leaving, two-thirds will stay,â€� Rosekind said. â€œThatâ€™s another way weâ€™ll have senior career people making sure that things go on.”
Toyota takes a knee on Superbowl 51
For the first time since 2011, the Toyota Motor Corp won’t have a Superbowl advertisement.
The automaker said the big game just didn’t line up with the launch schedules of the Camry and C-HR. GroupÂ vice president of Toyota marketing, Jack Hollis, told Automotive News,Â â€œThe last five years, we have used the Super Bowl as a launch point for each of our new vehicle launches that are right at that time frame.â€�
With theÂ C-HR set up for a springÂ release and the new Camry due to bow near the end of summer, there’s nothing for Toyota to showcase.
Hollis claims that the Super Bowl decision was made over the summerÂ and had nothing to do with the NFLâ€™s declining ratings.[Images:Â Francis Storr/FlickrÂ (CC BY-SA 2.0); Audi; Continental AG; NHTSA.gov; Toyota]