"Might not need vs does not have is a stretch."
Exactly, and a very large stretch at that. The article doesn't even offer a guess as to what these "sensors that a noncheating car might not need" are. Steering angle sensor - used for stability control. Individual wheel speed - used for ABS. Throttle position - used for drive by wire. What else is needed to tell that the car is being run on a dyno and not the road? EGR control
is a common part of diesel emissions controls.
The author stated "I mention hardware because it widens the scope of the Volkswagen conspiracy." No, it doesn't, not unless you can point to specific hardware which would otherwise not exist.
Apparently, Physics Today doesn't require actual knowledge.