Audi’s effort to emerge from the diesel scandal that has engulfed parent Volkswagen AG for more than a year suffered a setback as the luxury-car brand identified more cars in Europe that might breach emission rules.
Some 24,000 Audi flagship A8 sedans and A7 four-door coupes built between 2010 and 2013 will be recalled after “irregularities” were discovered in emission tests that indicated the cars might spew out as much as twice the pollution limits under some circumstances, Ingolstadt, Germany-based Audi said Thursday in an emailed statement.
“Engine speed can be influenced unfavorably by the gearbox software” in the affected cars, which can be made compliant with a software update that takes about 30 minutes, Audi said. The manufacturer agreed with German regulators on a recall that starts next month and affects 14,000 cars in its domestic market alone. Audi is in “constant contact with the relevant authorities,” a spokesman said by phone.
The fresh findings on Audi’s top models are a blow to a company that’s VW’s biggest profit contributor and therefore a vital component to absorb the hit from the diesel-emissions scandal that has cost the manufacturer 22.6 billion euros ($25.4 billion) so far. From the roughly 11 million diesel cars affected worldwide across the VW group, Audi has accounted for about 2.1 million vehicles until now.
Munich prosecutors responded to Thursday’s news by extending an existing Audi probe to include the additional models, prosecutors spokesman Ken Heidenreich said by phone. It’s the first time that office is investigating Audi cars sold in Europe, as the review so far has been limited to U.S. sales.
The revelation comes two weeks after Audi prolongedthe contract of Chief Executive Officer Rupert Stadler. VW Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said last month that investigations by external law firms haven’t brought any evidence that board members were aware of or involved in the illicit conduct.
Audi has been falling behind German rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW AG in the global luxury-car race, and now ranks third in sales, having previously aspired to gain the top slot. German prosecutors are looking into Audi’s role in the cheating and have raided offices of the carmaker’s law firm that conducted an external probe into the roots of the engine rigging.