Volkswagen faces make or break start to 2016 – CNBC

Posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2015

VW met a November 20 deadline to submit a proposed technical solution to U.S. environmental officials. But one month on, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) have yet to give the all clear.

VW CEO Matthias Mueller appeared visibly frustrated, voicing “impatience” with the EPA when I asked him earlier this month why an agreement had not been struck. But he refrained from disclosing any specific sticking points, largely blaming the delay on more stringent emissions standards in the U.S.

On Friday, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) agreed to extend a deadline for a decision on VW’s fix to January 14. But time may not be on the automaker’s side.

Each day that passes without an approved fix means additional pain for U.S. dealers who are struggling with stop-sale orders and inventory shortages. The lingering uncertainty also leaves the door open to additional legal action, with at least 500 lawsuits already pending.

Volkswagen recently picked compensation claims veteran Ken Feinberg to try to ease that legal headache. Drawing on Feinberg’s experience with payments tied to September 9/11, the BP oil spill and General Motor’s ignition-switch recall, VW hopes it can speed up the claims process. But Feinberg, too, faces a Sisyphean task until judgement is cast on the technical solution.


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