Audi has announced the surprise launch of a retrofit software upgrade program for older diesel cars, one it says will help clean up tailpipe emissions and thus contribute to improving air quality. The clean diesel upgrade is being offered free of charge to owners of V6 and V8-engined EU5 diesels (2009 and newer) and EU6 diesels (2014 and newer). Around 850,000 cars in Europe and other markets will be eligible, says Audi. 

The retrofit clean-up is not mandatory, so is not the subject of an official recall. But those who want it can take their cars to dealers to have new software fitted, which "will further improve their emissions in real driving conditions beyond the current legal requirements". Audi says the improvements will be particularly effective in urban areas. 

Porsche and Volkswagen owners with the same V6 and V8 TDI engines (models such as the Porsche Cayenne Diesel and Volkswagen Tourareg 3.0 TDI) are also eligible for the retrofit upgrade. 

"Audi aims to maintain the future viability of diesel engines for its customers and to make a contribution towards improving air quality," said the firm in a statement. It is "convinced that this program will counteract possible bands on vehicles with diesel engines." Don't also forget another inherent benefit of diesel, it adds – that of low CO2 emissions, which "help to achieve the ambitious CO2 targets in Europe". 

Audi is still under investigation by the German Federal Ministry of Transport, it adds. "If those investigations result in further consequences, Audi will of course quickly implement the required technical solutions in the interest of its customers as part of this EU5/EU6 retrofit program."

It is yet to be confirmed how the retrofit initiative will work in the UK: Motor1 will of course bring you more news when we have it.

Source: Audi

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