Volkswagen AG won approval from U.S. and California environmental regulators for fixes to more than 38,000 diesel-powered vehicles rigged to dupe emissions tests, avoiding the prospect of a more expensive undertaking to repurchase them from aggrieved consumers.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board approved the German auto giant’s plan for the repairs to Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche sport-utility vehicles with 3-liter engines that will address illegal defeat-device software that allowed them to pass government emissions tests and then pollute far beyond legal limits on the road, the company and regulators said Monday.
The approvals cover 2013-2016 Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne SUVs and 2013-2015 Audi Q7 SUVs. Some of the vehicles will receive updated software while others will also have their hardware modified, regulators said. Dealers will perform repairs free of charge.
A Volkswagen spokeswoman said the company was “pleased that it has received regulatory approval” for the fixes and was “working closely with our regulators to develop approved solutions for the remaining [affected 3-liter-engine] vehicles as quickly as possible.”
The approvals to fixes on the SUVs were granted after the EPA and California officials received test data and technical information demonstrating the modifications would bring the vehicles into compliance with emissions standards without worsening their reliability or durability, regulators said.
The development saves Volkswagen billions of dollars potentially owed under the terms of a court-approved settlement addressing more than 80,000 diesel-powered vehicles that regulators flagged for featuring illegal emissions software.
A federal judge in May approved Volkswagen’s agreement to pay $1.2 billion repurchase some of the vehicles and fix the rest. The settlement put Volkswagen on the hook for up to roughly $4 billion to repurchase them all absent approval from regulators for proposed fixes to the bulk of the vehicles.
Volkswagen has acknowledged installing the illegal software on nearly 600,000 vehicles in the U.S. and some 11 million globally. The auto maker pleaded guilty to criminal charges earlier this year to settle a U.S. Justice Department probe. In the U.S. alone, Volkswagen has reached legal settlements with prosecutors, regulators, consumers, dealers and state attorneys general collectively eclipsing $20 billion depending on how many vehicles the auto maker repurchases.
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