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EPA Widens Investigation Into VW Emissions Cheating Scandal


Volkswagen is back in the news yet again for allegedly cheating. The German auto company admitted to cheating on emissions tests. That involved its diesel vehicles. Now the Environmental Protection Agency says it has discovered more, this time including the company's upscale Porsche and Audi brands. The EPA says 10,000 more cars have software that allows them to pollute less during testing than when they're actually driving on the road. This claim the company is denying. But if true, the allegations could have wide implications for Volkswagen, as NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: When the Volkswagen story first broke, the cheat seemed contained to smaller cars. The company admitted to installing software in its diesel vehicles that allowed them to past emissions tests. That was in September. On Monday, the EPA said it found that type of software in about 10,000 vehicles that are bigger and more expensive. Karl Brauer, with, says while the number is small, this latest revelation could change the nature of the scandal.

KARL BRAUER: There was the concept that maybe it was the small engines that this was done to, on the smaller, less expensive cars, as a way to save money. Now we're seeing this same problem on larger engines in larger, more prestigious cars, which suggests it wasn't just a cost issue; but it was more of a philosophical issue at Volkswagen.

GLINTON: The EPA says it found software in some of the company's larger vehicles, like the Porsche Cayenne and several Audi luxury sedans and SUVs. Those vehicles represent several divisions and companies and two types of diesel engines. Again, KBB's Karl Brauer.

BRAUER: There were early indications that this was, you know, supposedly a small group of people that knew what was going on. But that becomes that much harder to believe when you've got three brands and two different types of engines, over a period of eight years, involved.

GLINTON: According to the EPA, the vehicles gave off nine times more nitrogen oxide than under lab tests. While the company previously admitted to installing cheating software in other vehicles, in a statement, Volkswagen disputed the EPA's findings, saying that vehicles did not have software that, quote, "alters emissions characteristics in a forbidden manner." Now, that denial is very similar to the one Volkswagen issued to the government a year ago, when the original cheat was discovered. Sonari Glinton, NPR News, Culver City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sonari Glinton is a NPR Business Desk Correspondent based at our NPR West bureau. He covers the auto industry, consumer goods, and consumer behavior, as well as marketing and advertising for NPR and Planet Money.