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WASHINGTON - Volkswagen AG has told U.S. regulators that emissions issues in larger luxury cars and SUVs extend to an additional 75,000 vehicles dating back to 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Friday.
The disclosure widened the VW scandal, which had previously focused mainly on smaller-engined, mass-market cars, and raised the possibility that engineers at both the Audi and VW brands could have been involved in separate emissions schemes.
The EPA and California Air Resources Board on Nov. 2 accused VW of evading emissions in at least 10,000 Audi, Porsche and VW sport utility vehicles and cars with 3-liter, V-6 diesel engines. VW initially denied the findings.
During a meeting on Thursday, VW and Audi officials told the EPA that the issues extend to all 3-liter diesel engines from model years 2009 through 2016. The new disclosure covers a total of 85,000 vehicles, the EPA said.
California Air Resources Board spokesman Dave Clegern said Audi admitted that the vehicles had auxiliary emissions control equipment that was not disclosed to the U.S. government.
"That should have been reported," Clegern said, adding that the agencies are now investigating whether that constituted intentional cheating on VW's part.
Audi spokesman Brad Stertz said that the auxiliary emissions control software is legal in Europe, but that Audi did not "properly notify regulators" of the device.
"We are willing to take another crack at reprogramming to a degree that the regulators deem acceptable," Stertz said. The cost of reflashing the software is relatively minor, in the "double digits millions of euros," he added.
In September, VW admitted it had installed software that allowed 482,000 diesel cars with four-cylinder, 2-liter engines sold in the United States since 2009 to emit up to 40 times allowable emissions by only activating emissions controls during laboratory testing.
VW faces investigations around the world, including from the U.S. Justice Department - and could face up to $18 billion in U.S. fines. The new disclosure could add another $3.2 billion in fines.