Volkswagens
Marc Stern's picture

While VWs Wait In U.S., Automaker Gets OK To Fix Millions In Europe

Volkswagen is pushing ahead with a diesel repair program to fix emissions problems, while U.S. owners are still waiting.

Although the news has been full of stories about the Volkswagen emissions scandal and proposed settlements, one thing has been noticeably absent, a fix. In a significant settlement of a class action lawsuit in San Francisco, the automaker has agreed to buy back 482,000 VW vehicles affected by the carmaker’s self-inflicted diesel emissions. Once the vehicle has been purchased by VW, the carmaker has the right to repair it for resale, if it chooses to.

Nowhere does the settlement address how a motorist, who likes his emissions-emitting VW and wants to keep it, can have the vehicle fixed. The reason is that no fix has been approved by either the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the California Air Resources Board (CARB). It’s not that the automaker hasn’t tried to have a fix approved. It did submit a proposed repair for impacted vehicles. However, the fix was rejected be regulators as lacking in substance.

U.S. Owners Are Still Waiting

The rejection left nearly 600,000 four- and six-cylinder VW diesel owners without a fix for their vehicles. The settlement does give 482,000 four-cylinder diesel owners the ability to have their vehicles purchased by VW, but, for the nearly 100,000 six-cylinder vehicle owners also impacted by Dieselgate, there is neither a settlement nor is there a fix. Effectively, they are left with vehicles they can’t sell; can’t return to the factory for their money back, and they really shouldn’t be driving because their emissions flunk U.S. standards by a wide mark.

Ironically, in Europe regulators have approved fixes for more than 5 million of the 8.5 million vehicles that were affected by Dieselgate in German and the rest Europe. The latest approval came yesterday as the VW Group was given approval by the German transport ministry, KBA, to implement fixes in another 460,000 vehicles.

In a statement reported by Reuters Sunday, VW was given permission to fix another 460,000 vehicles with emissions cheatware installed. This raises the number of vehicles that have been cleared for repair in Germany to more than 5 million. Interestingly, the announcement of the fix has implications beyond German borders. Approval by the transport agency is valid for all members of the European community. About 11 million vehicles have been affected by the Dieselgate scandal worldwide. This means that all of the vehicles impacted by Dieselgate can be repaired.

The fix that the German transport agency approved affects VW diesel models equipped with 1.2-liter engines. The vehicles include VW’s Polo subcompact and the Seat Ibiza. Seat is Volkswagen’s Spanish subsidiary.

1.2- And 2.0-Liter Engines

VW vehicles equipped with 1.2- and 2.0-liter motors need a tweak to fix the emissions problem. That tweak is an update to the software that operates their emission control systems. As noted, about 8.5 million vehicles are involved. There are another 3 million vehicles, equipped with 1.6-liter engines, which require a mechanical fix in addition to the software fix. The hardware fix is the installation of mesh near the air filter.

VW indicated most of the 8.5 million vehicles in Europe can be repaired this year, while some will have to wait until 2017.


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