Germans find illegal emissions device in Porsche model

German authorities have found what they consider an illegal "defeat device" in a Porsche diesel model that manipulates emissions levels, leading to the recall of some 22,000 cars.

The model affected is a Cayenne 3-liter TDI that is still in production, Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said Thursday.

Authorities will order an obligatory recall as in previous such cases, he added, saying that 7,500 such vehicles have been registered in Germany and some 22,000 across Europe. It's not clear how many more are with dealers or in production.

Dobrindt said that the finding resulted from tests carried out by German authorities. He said that "a so-called warm-up strategy" is triggered when cars are being tested that is not activated during normal driving. The emissions of nitrogen oxide, a pollutant that's harmful to people's health, are much higher when the car is on the road, he said.

Talks with the manufacturer also raised suspicions that there may be similar software in a Volkswagen Touareg 3-liter diesel model, but authorities still have to carry out tests on it, Dobrindt said.

"There is no explanation as to why this software is in this car," he said, arguing that the vehicle has a modern emissions system and is technically able to comply with emissions limits. That should mean Porsche can quickly produce modified software that complies with the law, he added.

Porsche is a unit of Volkswagen, which has been under a cloud since 2015 over its equipping of diesel cars with illegal software that enabled cheating on U.S. emissions tests. Volkswagen has agreed to more than $20 billion in fines and civil settlements over that scandal.