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Audi 5000

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

5000
Vehicle Model

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Wikipedia: Audi 100

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History
Reference Desk
1978 Specifications
1982 Specifications
A car produced by Audi. It was the United States market name for the Audi 100 from 1978-1991.

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Audi 100 page on 12 January 2018, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Audi 5000 (1978-1983)

In North America, where 133,512 of the Audi 5000 C2s were sold, only five-cylinder engines were available. The diesel was originally not available in California, as Porsche-Audi of North America was unable to meet that state's strict emissions standards. The naturally aspirated diesel was also only available with a five-speed manual, a handicap in the American market. It was not until the 1983 introduction of the turbodiesel that these issues were rectified. The 5000 had twin round headlamps for the first two model years, after which they were replaced by rectangular units.

In 1980 the 5000 Turbo arrived in the US. This model only delivered 130 hp (97 kW), more than twenty percent less than the European spec model. Aside from meeting the strict US emissions, this model also had lower boost pressure to be able to run on the lower octane unleaded fuel available in America. While the Turbo also received a harder, sportier suspension, bigger aluminium wheels, and other performance upgrades, it was also only available with a three-speed automatic transmission. Road & Track were able to reach a top speed of 113 mph (182 km/h) in the federalized car, slower than a naturally aspirated European market 2.1 E. In the US, reflecting the Audi's luxury connotations, 90 percent of 5000s received the costlier "S" equipment package.

Reported sudden unintended acceleration

During model years 1983–1987, Audi's U.S. sales fell after a series of recalls of Audi 5000 models associated with reported incidents of sudden unintended acceleration linked to six deaths and 700 accidents. At the time, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was investigating 50 car models from 20 manufacturers for sudden surges of power.

In North America, the CBS television broadcast network 60 Minutes news program aired a report titled Out of Control on November 23, 1986. It featured interviews with six people who had sued Audi after reporting unintended acceleration, including footage of an Audi 5000 ostensibly displaying a surge of acceleration while the brake pedal was depressed. Subsequent investigation revealed that 60 Minutes had not disclosed they had engineered the vehicle's behavior – fitting a canister of compressed air on the passenger-side floor, to pump fluid via a hose to a hole drilled into the transmission — the arrangement executed by one of the experts who had testified on behalf of a plaintiff in a then-pending lawsuit against Audi's parent company.

Audi initially responded by suggesting that the drivers of the cars involved in the incidents were at fault, because they had stepped on the accelerator pedal rather than the brake. Subsequently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded that the majority of unintended acceleration cases, including all the ones that prompted the 60 Minutes report, were caused mainly by factors such as confusion of pedals. CBS acknowledged the report and stressed its findings that “the problem could be aggravated by vehicle design, the shape, location and feel of gas and brake pedals." Audi's research demonstrated that many of the drivers who encountered "unintended acceleration" were "below average in height", indicating their knowledge of a relationship between design and the incidents.

In a review study published in 2012, NHTSA summarized its past findings about the Audi unintended acceleration problems: "Once an unintended acceleration had begun, in the Audi 5000, due to a failure in the idle-stabilizer system (producing an initial acceleration of 0.3g), pedal misapplication resulting from panic, confusion, or unfamiliarity with the Audi 5000 contributed to the severity of the incident."

This summary is consistent with the conclusions of NHTSA's most technical analysis at the time: "Audi idle-stabilization systems were prone to defects which resulted in excessive idle speeds and brief unanticipated accelerations of up to 0.3g [which is similar in magnitude to an emergency stop in a subway car]. These accelerations could not be the sole cause of [(long-duration) sudden acceleration incidents (SAI)], but might have triggered some SAIs by startling the driver. The defective idle-stabilization system performed a type of electronic throttle control. Significantly: multiple "intermittent malfunctions of the electronic control unit were observed and recorded … and [were also observed and] reported by Transport Canada."

With the series of recall campaigns, Audi made several modifications; the first adjusted the distance between the brake and accelerator pedal on automatic-transmission models. Later repairs of 250,000 cars dating back to 1978 added a device requiring the driver to press the brake pedal before shifting out of park. It is unclear what was done regarding the defects in the idle-stabilization system. Subsequent to the recall campaigns, vehicles now include gear shift patterns and brake interlock mechanisms to prevent deliberate gear selection.

Audi's U.S. sales, which had reached 74,061 in 1985, dropped to 12,283 in 1991 and remained level for three years. – with resale values falling dramatically. Audi subsequently offered increased warranty protection and renamed the affected models — with the 5000 becoming the 100 and 200 in 1989. The company only reached the same level of U.S. sales again by model year 2000.

As of early 2010, a class-action lawsuit — dealing with a charge that on account of the sudden acceleration controversy, Audi models had lost resale value — filed in 1987 by about 7,500 Audi 5000-model owners remains unsettled and is currently contested in county court in Chicago after appeals at the Illinois state and U.S. federal levels. The NHTSA's findings have been "small solace for Audi in defense of product liability actions, as more and more successful cases used Audi's human factor design errors and failure to warn or recall as a basis for liability."


Reference Desk

The Crittenden Automotive Library's "Reference Desk" is a collection of materials that cannot be shared due to copyright restrictions. Information from these resources, however, can be shared. Go to the Reference Desk page for more information.

TypeTitle
1989 BookAudi 5000: 1984 thru 1988 Automotive Repair Manual by John S. Mead; Haynes Publishing Group


1978 Specifications

ChassisUnitized body with front and rear energy absorbing sections
EngineI5
Engine LocationFront, in front of front axle
Engine MaterialsCast iron block, light alloy head
Engine Displacement130.8 cu. in. (2144cc)
Engine LubricationFull pressure system
Engine Oil Capacity5.3 quarts
Compression Ratio8.0:1
Engine CoolingWater cooled (8.5 quart capacity)
Fuel InjectionCIS (Continuous Injection System)
IgnitionBreakerless transistor
Clutch (manual transmission)Single dry plate, hydraulically operated
Torque Convertor (automatic transmission)Automatic Trilok
Standard Transmission4-speed fully synchronized manual
Optional Transmission3-speed automatic
Battery12 volt, 63 amp/hour
Alternator75 amp
Brake SystemPower-assisted with diagonally-linked dual circuits
Front BrakesVented disc
Rear BrakesFinned drum
Front SuspensionIndpendent coil-shock absorber struts, stabilizer and negative roll radius
Rear SuspensionTorsion crank axle with built-in stabilizer and Panhard Rod, coil springs and double-acting hydraulic shock
SteeringPower assisted rack and pinion
Turning Radius33.8' curb-to-curb
Length189.5"
Width69.6"
Height53.9"
Wheelbase105.5"
Front Track57.9"
Rear Track56.9"
Wheels5½J x 14
Tires185/70 HR 14 radial play steel belted
Trunk Capacity22.7 cu. ft.
Fuel Capacity15.9 gallons
Top Speed103 mph manual transmission, 100 mph automatic transmission


1982 Specifications

ModelTurbo w/Automatic Transmission
0-60 mph*11.6 seconds
80-0 mph*293 feet
Cornering Capability*0.737g
Interior Noise @ 70mph*73 dBA
Fuel Economy*19.0 mpg
*=Test conducted by Road & Track, October 1982 issue

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