TENSIONS have been raised ahead of a meeting between US federal officials and Volkswagen over the dieselgate emissions cheating controversy following a rejection of the car company’s plans for recalling nearly 500,000 diesel powered cars by regulators.
“Volkswagen made a decision to cheat on emissions tests and then tried to cover it up,” said Mary Nichols, head of state environmental regulator California Air Resources Board, or CARB. “They need to make it right. Today’s decision is a step in the direction of assuring that will happen.”
CARB on Tuesday said in a statement Volkswagen’s proposals failed to address how the fix would affect the engine’s performance, emissions and vehicle safety.
Some experts are concerned that a fix that strengthens the vehicle’s emissions control could reduce fuel economy and overall performance.
The move turns up the pressure on Volkswagen before talks this week between its chief executive, Matthias Müller, and Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Müller (below) is scheduled to meet McCarthy, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, for talks in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday (Thursday M’sian time).
The EPA told the company that it “agrees with CARB that Volkswagen has not submitted an approvable recall plan to bring the vehicles into compliance and reduce pollution.”
In September, Volkswagen acknowledged installing software on millions of diesel engines world-wide that allowed it to dupe emissions tests.
Since then, the company has been locked in negotiations with regulators in the US and Europe over how to fix the cars to make them compliant with emissions regulations.
German regulators last month approved a technical fix for cars in Europe, allowing Volkswagen to begin this month recalling nearly nine million vehicles there.
The company is considering installing a new catalytic converter in hundreds of thousands of tainted diesel-powered vehicles and must prove to regulators that the fix will bring them into compliance with emissions rules.
Talks have dragged on in the US because of the sheer complexity of the solution required and the tense atmosphere in the talks.
Volkswagen said in a statement that the rejection affects proposals that it presented to CARB officials in December.
“Since then, Volkswagen has had constructive discussions with CARB,” the company said. “We are committed to working cooperatively with CARB and other regulators and we plan to continue our discussions tomorrow when we meet with the EPA.”
This week, Mr. Müller visited the U.S. for the first time since becoming CEO in September. He had hoped to use the trip to repair broken trust with US consumers and regulators, but the reconciliation tour got off to a rocky start.
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) is rejecting VW’s submitted recall plan for 2-litre diesel passenger vehicles sold in California between 2009 and 2015 which were sold with the software defeat devices.
It also notified VW of violations of California air quality regulations associated with the company’s use of a defeat device in those cars.
This rejection only applies to VW’s diesel 2.0L vehicles, not 3.0L vehicles. The submission of the recall plan for 3.0L vehicles is due to ARB next month.
ARB said that VW’s recall plan fell short in a number of areas.
CARB said it considered three of the deficiencies in VW’s proposed influenced emission recall plans to be the most serious.
“First, VW failed to describe the noncomformities in sufficient detail for CARB to adequately understand them in the context of the recall plans, in order to determine whether the proposed fixes are feasible or would remedy each of the nonconformities.
“Second, VW failed to specifically describe the fixes in its proposed recall plans in a manner that allows CARB to adequately evaluate whether they could be successful or are even technically feasible. Third, the proposed plans do not sufficiently address impacts on the engine, the vehicle’s overall operation, and all related emission control technologies, including the OBD system.”
ARB said today’s actions do not preclude a recall, but allow for “a broader array of potential remedies”.