Volkswagen's emissions cheating scandal widened Friday as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said that clandestine software allowing six-cylinder Volkswagen diesel engines to cheat on pollution tests is on more models than originally thought.
The EPA and the California Air Resources Board said the German automaker acknowledged the software is on about 85,000 Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche vehicles with 3-liter engines going back to the 2009 model year. Earlier this month the agencies accused VW of installing the so-called "defeat device" software on about 10,000 cars from the 2014 through 2016 model years, in violation of the Clean Air Act.
The statement says the agencies will investigate and take appropriate action on the software, which the regulators claim allowed the six-cylinder diesels to emit fewer pollutants during tests than in real-world driving.
The latest allegation means that more Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche owners could face recalls of their cars to fix the software, and VW could face steeper fines and more intense scrutiny from U.S. regulators and lawmakers.
Audi spokesman Brad Stertz on Friday conceded that VW never told regulators about the software, in violation of U.S. law. He said the company agreed with the agencies to reprogram it "so that the regulators see it, understand it and approve it and feel comfortable with the way it's performing."
The software is on 2009-2013 diesel-powered Audi Q7 SUVs, as well as 2014 and later Audi A6, A7, A8, Q5 and Q7 models. Additional VW and Porsche models weren't available Friday afternoon, but initially the EPA said it also was on the 2014 VW Touareg and 2015 Porsche Cayenne.
Stertz said the software is legal in Europe and it's not the same as a device that enabled four-cylinder VW diesel engines to deliberately cheat on emissions tests.
VW made the disclosure on a day it was meeting with the agencies about how it plans to fix 482,000 four-cylinder diesel cars equipped with emissions-cheating software.
U.S. regulators continue to tell owners of all the affected cars they are safe to drive, even as they emit nitrogen oxide, a contributor to smog and respiratory problems, in amounts that exceed EPA standards — up to nine times above accepted levels in the six-cylinder engines and up to 40 times in the four-cylinders.
Stertz said it would cost in the "double-digit" millions of euros to reprogram all the software on the six-cyilnder diesels.
Also Friday, VW said it will cut its spending by 1 billion euros ($1.07 billion) next year and "strictly prioritize" investments as it shores up its finances to deal with its emissions-rigging scandal.