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The sports carmaker has become the latest Volkswagen subsidiary to be dragged into the group's emissions cheating scandal, after the German Ministry of Transport ordered a recall of thousands of Cayenne diesel models.
German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said on Thursday that emissions-cheating software had been found in Porsche's Cayenne Diesel 3.0 TDI model and that 22,000 vehicles would have to be recalled.
Speaking to reporters in Berlin, Dobrindt said that German authorities had ordered an obligatory recall, as was the norm in such situations. Moreover, all cars of this type produced but not yet sold would be denied permits until the software was changed.
Dobrindt also said the cheating was made possible through the so-called "warm-up strategy," whose true purpose was to make the car comply with emissions requirements. "We consider this to be an illegal emissions control device," he added.
The software is able to set off during emissions testing but not during regular driving. Tests have shown that once the car was confronted with small bends or a slope it switched modes and emissions were higher.
German car makers face suits in North America
The "big three" of the German car industry – Volkswagen, Daimler AG, and BMW – are also struggling with accusations of collusion. According to reports in German media, the car makers made deals to fix prices and disadvantage foreign competitors. The companies also allegedly forged joint strategies on technologies, costs, suppliers and even emissions from diesel engines.
On Thursday, consumer groups in Canada and the US filed suits against the car manufacturers. Their collusion harmed buyers because "they paid more for German luxury vehicles than they otherwise would have," the US plaintiffs said.
Responding to an email by the AFP news agency, Daimler dismissed the allegations in the lawsuits.
"We consider these class action suits to lack merit," a spokesperson told the agency in an email. "We will defend ourselves by all legal means."
BMW and Volkswagen reportedly declined comment.
Porsche vs Spiegel
According to the Transport Ministry, Porsche recall would affect some 22,000 cars sold across Europe, about 7,500 of which were registered in Germany.
The move came after news magazine Der Spiegel reported in June that a different Porsche model - the Cayenne V6 TDI - had emitted unusually high levels of nitrogen oxide in testing by certification authority TUV Nord. The magazine assumed the car was fitted with emissions-cheating software disguised as a "warm-up mode."
At the time, Porsche told Der Spiegel the tests were "implausible" and said its own tests showed that the car was compliant with emissions standards.
Until now, Porsche has only been a small player in the 'Dieselgate' emissions scandal, which has cost Volkswagen billions of dollars in compensation and buy-backs. In Germany, Porsche's Macan SUV is part of a voluntary recall of 630 000 vehicles over which there are official doubts over their emissions. However, there is no suggestion so far that they have any illegal software fitted.
uhe/kd (Reuters, dpa, AFP)