California Air Resource Board Rejects Volkswagen’s Proposed Dieselgate strategy, Issues Another Notice of Violation

Back in September last year, the EPA, alongside the California Air Resource Board (CARB), issued notices of violation against German automaker Volkswagen for intentionally installing so-called defeat devices in certain model year cars fitted with its 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine. The defeat device, essentially a software subroutine, was intentionally designed to make affected cars appear to meet EPA and California emissions targets for NOx emissions when tested on a dynamometer in a laboratory, but emit more than 40 times the legal NOx limits when driven on the road.

CARB: Proposed fixes had massive gaps, could not be evaluated properly.

CARB: Proposed fixes had massive gaps, could not be evaluated properly.

When CARB issued the original notice of violation to Volkswagen, it gave the German automaker 45 business days to submit a plan for the recall and repair of affected vehicles — some 500,000 cars of various Volkswagen models covering 2009 thru 2015 model year diesel cars with the affected 2.0-litre diesel engine. A similar notice served on Volkswagen by the European Union (where the same cars were also found to be in noncompliance ) gave the automaker a similar amount of time to ensure affected European-market cars were recalled and repaired to bring them in line with less-stringent NOx targets than the U.S. but tougher CO² limits. 

In the intervening time, Volkswagen has submitted recall plans to the European Union, the EPA and CARB. But while the European Union accepted Volkswagen’s proposed plans for recall and repair, CARB has just rejected Volkswagen’s proposal.

VW seems to be getting deeper and deeper into trouble.

VW seems to be getting deeper and deeper into trouble.

The reason? According to a press release from CARB earlier today, Volkswagen’s submitted recall plans “fell short” in several areas, failing to include enough technical details for CARB to correctly evaluate the proposal, and did not “adequately address overall impacts on vehicle performance, emissions and safety.”

Essentially, CARB said, VW’s 2.0-litre proposals contained gaps and lacked sufficient detail.

“Volkswagen made a decision to cheat on emissions tests and then tried to cover it up,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols in an official statement on behalf of CARB. “They continued and compounded the lie and when they were caught they tried to deny it. The result is thousands of tons of nitrogen oxide that have harmed the health of Californians. They need to make it right. Today’s action is a step in the direction of assuring that will happen.”

As a consequence of the rejection of Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre recall plan, the automaker will now have to regroup its plans and present CARB with a fresh set of proposals in double-quick time. Failure to do so will result in additional fines being levied on top of the fines Volkswagen already faces.

While this particular rejection came from CARB, the EPA, which has been working alongside CARB to both investigate the Dieselgate scandal, the EPA says it concurs with CARB’s decision.

“EPA agrees with CARB that Volkswagen has not submitted an approvable recall plan to bring the vehicles into compliance and reduce pollution,” an official statement from the Federal agency said. “EPA has conveyed this to the company previously.”

At the time of writing CARB has outlined a total of thirteen different regulations which its says Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre diesel engine are in violation of, but notes that its announcement today does not include the 3.0-litre V-6 diesel engines also embroiled in the dieselgate scandal.

For those engines, Volkswagen will have until February 2 to submit its plan for recall and repair.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a federal complaint against Volkswagen for the diesel gate scandal, a complaint which it said caused more than 50 premature deaths and $450 million in social costs over the period the affected 2.0-litre diesel engines were produced.


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