Volkswagen / 13 January 2016, 11:30am / David Shepardson
Sacramento, California - The California Air Resources Board has rejected Volkswagen's plan to fix two-litre diesel cars fitted with software that allows them to emit up to 40 times legally allowable pollution.
The state said the proposed solution was “incomplete, substantially deficient and falls far short of meeting the legal requirements”. It also said the proposal could not be implemented soon enough.
California sent Volkswagen a confidential letter offering a detailed explanation of why its proposed solution did not work. The state said it would continue its investigation as well as talks with Volkswagen.
The automaker said it was in talks to find a solution, and that the rejection addressed the initial recall plans submitted to California in December.
“Since then, Volkswagen has had constructive discussions with CARB, including last week when we discussed a framework to address the issue.”
Volkswagen has admitted using software that circumvented US and California pollution rules by fully activating the exhaust scrubbing systems only when a car was being put through precisely prescribed government emissions tests.
The state did not assess any immediate penalties, but it issued a new notice that Volkswagen had violated California air quality regulations.
Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller was to meet US Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy on Wednesday to discuss the emissions scandal that involves nearly 600 000 vehicles in the United States and up to 11 million vehicles worldwide.
The EPA has agreed with California “that Volkswagen has not submitted an approvable recall plan to bring the vehicles into compliance and reduce pollution. The EPA has conveyed this to the company previously”.
Volkswagen said it was “committed to working cooperatively with CARB and other regulators, and we plan to continue our discussions tomorrow when we meet with the EPA”.
Mueller's first US tour - in which he has repeatedly apologised for the emissions scandal - has not gone as planned and has come under criticism for comments he made during a US radio interview in which he denied Volkswagen officials lied in evading emissions rules.
Connecticut attorney-general George Jepsen called Mueller's comments disturbing.
“We now learn that the company's newly appointed and most senior leader doesn't believe Volkswagen lied, which is undisputable, and cannot say when it plans to deliver its solution to a problem that is affecting millions of Americans, which is unacceptable,” Jepsen said. “The time for empty apologies and hollow pledges of cooperation is over.”
Volkswagen officials have expressed optimism they will soon win approval of a plan to fix the vehicles. They face a separate deadline on 2 February to submit a plan to fix 80 000 Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen vehicles with bigger, three-litre TDI V6s.
Tennessee governor Bill Haslam, whose state is home to a Volkswagen plant, said on the sidelines of the Detroit motor show he’d met Mueller on Monday in Washington.
“We obviously have a keen interest in getting their legal issues solved,” he said, “so they can go back to selling cars.”