How Audi cheated emissions tests: if (steering) then (pollute)

A report in BILD am Sonntag claims that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has uncovered the secret test that Audis were programmed to perform to determine whether to pollute like crazy or to pretend that they were low-polluting, legally compliant vehicles.

The test was deceptively simple: the car starts in a "low CO2" mode, then, if the steering wheel is turned more than 15 degrees, the program ends and the engine kicks into a high-emission, high-fuel-efficiency mode that made Audis very cheap to drive, unless you count the cost of losing every coastal city in the world by the end of the century.

When the Audi starts up, its transmission engages a 'low CO2' program, shifting gears in such a way as to keep engine revs and emissions artificially low. If the steering wheel is turned more than 15 degrees, the car deactivates the program and shifts in its normal, more pollutant fashion that burns more gas and produces more CO2.

Audi figured that the only time the car would run with the steering wheel never moving would be in a lab, on a test bed. This is a similar philosophy to the classic 'dyno mode' cheat that kicked off Dieselgate. It's so simple, and apparently it was enough to get Audis to pass emissions tests in lab situations they might have never passed in real world conditions.

Lenkrad-Trick | So schummelte Audi bei CO² [BILD am Sonntag]

America Figured Out A New Way Audi Cheated on Emissions Testing: Report
[Raphael Orlove/Jalopnik]