Class action lawsuits have been filed against Audi AG and Audi of America LLC alleging the companies used an illegal CO2 emissions defeat device in certain vehicles equipped with a ZF 8HP55 “AL 551” transmission, including, but not limited to, the A6, A7, A8, Q5, and Q7 models and a DL 501-7Q “DL 501” transmission, including, but not limited to, the Audi S4, S5, S6, S7, and S8 models. These allegations are reminiscent of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, which is still working its way through the Virginia courts. In those Virginia cases, Webster Book LLP has been appointed lead counsel by the Court.
According to allegations made in a federal class action:
Testing has been conducted to determine whether there was a difference in fuel economy for certain class vehicles when tested using the federal certification tests, with and without turning the vehicle wheels more than 15 degrees prior to testing. The test was designed to determine if the vehicle was designed to have different shift schedules if the vehicle computer believed it was being tested versus being operated on the road. The shift schedule in the default mode—that is, without turning the steering wheel—would have lower average RPM, resulting in lower emission rates and higher fuel economy.
“Early shifting” may result in reduced performance. However, performance is not a criteria during the certification test—only emissions and fuel economy are. Because vehicles emissions levels are determined during certification on a dynamometer, the vehicle is not steered, as opposed to on-road operation where the vehicle must be steered. Thus, a steering wheel sensor could report to the vehicle that it was likely operating in laboratory conditions.
More specifically, the vehicle computers could be programmed to notice if the steering wheels were turned more than 15 degrees left or right, and the vehicle was therefore not being tested. This defeat strategy would result in higher performance on the road at the cost of higher emission rates of pollutants into the environment.
With respect to the new Audi claims, owners should be aware of the protections offered under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. Consumers who are harmed by violations of the Act are entitled to damages for each violation in the amount of their actual damages, or $500, whichever is greater. Further, if the violation was willful, consumers may receive up to three times the actual damages sustained, or $1,000, whichever is greater. Additionally, the Act provides that the supplier who committed the violation must pay the consumer’s attorneys’ fees and court costs. Finally, even in the case of unintentional violations, the Court is empowered to award restitution and payment of reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs.
If you purchased one of these vehicles, you may wish to consult with a lawyer experienced in this area to learn your rights.