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Proposed VW diesel fix rejected

CARB tuning: The Californian Air Resources Board is not satisfied with Volkswagen's dirty diesel recall plan, and the car-maker must try again to avoid a buyback worst case scenario.

CARB knocks back Volkswagen's 2.0-litre diesel recall plan

14 Jan 2016

VOLKSWAGEN'S proposed solution to the unfolding diesel emissions scandal in the United States has been rejected by the Californian Air Resources Board (CARB).

In November last year, the German car giant submitted its official plan of how it planned to reverse the emissions test cheat device that was fitted to thousands of 2.0-litre diesel engines in the US, but after reviewing the details, the Californian authorities are not satisfied that it goes far enough.

According to the official letter of rejection, Volkswagen's submitted recall strategy fails to include all information as laid out in a previous demand from the CARB and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with gaps in almost all required fields.

While Volkswagen had touched on the necessary areas in its proposal, CARB says the plan lacked detail and contains gaps, proposed repairs do not have enough detail to evaluate for feasibility, and their effect on performance and durability is not adequately outlined.

The letter also claims the VW emission recall plan would fail to correct the problem “in an expeditious manner”, and as such, an official notice of violation (NOV) accompanies the letter of rejection, identifying 75,688 vehicles that do not conform to Californian law.

The Californian authorities have issued a list of proposal sections that must be reviewed and updated, but CARB has highlighted three areas which it considers the most serious and requiring the most attention.

“First, VW fails to describe the nonconformities 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,” it said in the letter to Volkswagen Group of America.

“Second, VW fails to specifically describe the fixes in the 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 engine's overall operation, and all related emission control technologies, including the OBD system.”

It is now up to Volkswagen to address the deficient areas and resubmit an updated proposal and, as such, the EPA is still considering a recall as a possible solution to the defeat device.

CARB explained that the NOV and proposal rejection does not preclude a recall, but allows for the consideration of other avenues on how to resolve the situation, future environmental harm mitigation and the assessment of penalties.

However, if an acceptable recall strategy that fixes the problem in an expedient manner, without undue inconvenience to owners or a reduction in performance and reliability cannot be found “a buyback may be part of ongoing discussions”, said CARB.

While it is not expected that any solution to the defeat device will be low cost for the German car-maker, a buyback would be dramatically more expensive and complex to orchestrate than recalling the defective fleet.

CARB chair Mary Nichols said Volkswagen was responsible for significant damage to the Californian environment and it would not get off lightly.

“Volkswagen made a decision to cheat on emissions tests and then tried to cover it up,” she said “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.”

Only 2.0-litre diesels are affected by the rejection, and Volkswagen is expected to submit a recall proposal for 3.0-litre six-cylinder engines on February 2.

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