CARB Rejects Initial VW Diesel Emissions Fix Plan
Last week, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) rejected Volkswagen Group’s diesel-emissions repair plan for 2009-2015 models equipped with 2.0-liter diesel engines that had “defeat device” software installed. CARB already had extended its deadline for plan approval by three weeks.
In a statement, CARB said it will continue a probe and technical tests with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make sure that 76,000 recalled diesel vehicles with 2.0-liter engines sold in California meet required emissions standards. In addition, penalties have to be assessed. In mid-September 2015, VW initially admitted to installing diesel-engine emission defeat devices on up to 11 million vehicles globally.
The California agency pointed out that VW’s recall proposal for vehicles with 2.0-liter diesel engines lacks enough detail related to fixes for a technical evaluation, and also lacks information on the impact on vehicle performance, emissions, and overall health and safety issues—especially since California has some of the unhealthiest air regions in the United States.
VW is considering retrofitting the affected cars with catalytic converters that separate harmful NOx into nitrogen and water, The Wall Street Journal reports. A proposal to fix recalled VW vehicles with 3.0-liter diesels is due on Feb. 2, CARB states.
Other recent news highlights related to the Volkswagen diesel-emissions cheating embroilment are summarized:
- Dozens of major investors in Volkswagen Group reported that they plan to sue the automaker in German court to seek compensation for the losses in share value due to the diesel-emissions cheating debacle. Since the September admission, VW stock has dropped by one-third—or by $24 billion—according to a Reuters report in Automotive News and the Financial Times.
- VW Group CEO Matthias Mueller met on Jan. 13 with EPA chief Gina McCarthy for a discussion that did not include conversation related to the details of a fix. Officials said the meeting was a “political and not a technical discussion."
- VW has expanded its goodwill program to compensate owners of Volkswagen Group SUVs with 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engines that are programmed with diesel-emissions cheating software, Reuters reports. VW’s $500 cash offer and $500 in credits at dealerships will be extended to owners of diesel-powered 2009-2016 VW Touareg SUVs.
- About 80,000 3.0-liter SUVs are included in the action, including the VW Touareg (2009-2016); Porsche Cayenne (2013-2016); Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L, and Q5 (2014-2016); plus the Audi Q7 (2009-2016). The payments will cost VW Group about $80 million.
- Additionally, in some cases, Mueller said the automaker may begin to buy back some cars impacted in the emissions debacle—especially when it is too expensive to repair the cars. That could involve as many as 115,000 of the older recalled diesel vehicles in the United States, according to a German newspaper report.
- Nearly two weeks ago, the U.S. Justice Department, on behalf of the EPA, said it would prosecute VW, Audi, and Porsche for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. Civil fines could reach $20 billion, while criminal prosecution could cost billions more, according to Bloomberg News. The complaint alleges that nearly 600,000 VW Group vehicles in the United States had illegal diesel-emissions defeat devices installed that caused vehicle emissions to exceed EPA requirements, resulting in harmful air pollution. Altogether, damages could hit $46 billion, Reuters reports.
- Meanwhile, Google said that in 2015, one of the hottest topics on its search engine was the VW diesel-emissions cheating crisis. More than 13 million searches were made after news of the scandal broke.
- Tesla’s Elon Musk, one of 45 green investment leaders, urged California to give Volkswagen a break with the crisis. He wrote a letter to the head of CARB that said the state should release VW from any obligation to fix diesel cars already on the road. Instead, the state should encourage the automaker to roll out its zero-emissions electric vehicles. “Cure the air, not the cars,” he suggested.
To date, VW Group models that have been recalled by the EPA to be fixed and made compliant are:
2.0-liter diesel models:
- Volkswagen Jetta (2009-2015) and Jetta Sportwagen (2009-2014)
- Volkswagen Beetle and Beetle Convertible (2012-2015)
- Audi A3 (2010-2015)
- Volkswagen Golf (2010-2015) and Golf Sportwagen (2015)
- Volkswagen Passat (2012-2015)
3.0-liter diesel models:
- Volkswagen Touareg (2009-2016)
- Porsche Cayenne (2013-2016)
- Audi A6 Quattro (2014-2016)
- Audi A7 Quattro (2014-2016)
- Audi A8 (2014-2016)
- Audi A8L (2014-2016)
- Audi Q5 (2014-2016)
- Audi Q7 (2009-2016)