Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) said, “Volkswagen made a decision to cheat on emissions tests and then tried to cover it up. They need to make it right.” CARB rejected the latest proposed engine fix as “incomplete,” sending Volkswagen back to the drawing board one day before VW CEO Matthias Mueller was to meet with regulators to talk about ways out of the mess.
CARB posted on its website that it “determined that there was no easy and expeditious fix for the affected vehicles.” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed that the latest VW fix could not be approved.
It wasn’t a good week for Mueller, who made a particularly embarrassing gaffe during an interview on Sunday. His comments regarding the crisis seemed dismissive as he told the interviewer that Volkswagen “didn’t lie” to regulators about the emissions issue, an issue he chalked up to a “technical problem.” Oops.
Sadly, Mueller’s “oops” came right in the middle of detailed discussions with CARB’s counterparts at the EPA regarding fixes for about 480K diesel vehicles with 2-liter engines.
VW said on Tuesday that it is willing to cooperate with regulators and will come up with a better proposal for its meeting with the EPA. The company said the plan CARB rejected contained initial plans that were a month old. VW asked for an extension on the deadline to provide further information pertaining to the diesel engines and turbocharged-direct injection (TDI).
In an e-mail statement on Tuesday, a company spokesperson said, “Since then, Volkswagen has had constructive discussions with CARB, including last week when we discussed a framework to remediate the TDI emissions issue.”
Both the EPA and CARB plan to continue evaluation of any VW technical proposals.
Mueller apologized during a speech the day before the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. “We know we deeply disappointed our customers, the responsible government bodies and the general public here in the U.S. I apologize for what went wrong at Volkswagen.”
Of course, that was the same day Mueller made the gaffe during an NPR interview. VW asked NPR for a second chance at the interview on Monday, claiming that the noisy atmosphere was to blame for Mueller’s comments. He apologized again in the second interview.
Two days before his meeting with EPA chief Gina McCarthy and members of Congress, Mueller dined with Senator Bob Corker (R-TN). The company is undertaking a major expansion of its plant in Chattanooga. Sen. Corker believes that VW understands the EPA meeting is “very important.”
Sen. Corker said, “They understand fully the order of magnitude of mistakes that have been made and my sense is they are very committed to resolving this in an appropriate way.”
CARB’s rejection was no surprise, according to Rebecca Linland, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “Volkswagen has been working on an additional potential fix involving the catalytic converter. Those details have not been worked out. The reasons for the rejection involve needing more details and specifications.”
VW must not only find an effective remedy for the three different non-compliant 4-cylinder engines, it also has to detail adverse affects on vehicles and customers. Due to the use of the “defeat device,” whatever remedy is chosen, it will need to be tested in California before being rolled out nationwide.
CARB’s statement regarding the rejection included, “Today’s actions do not preclude a recall, but allow for a broader array of potential remedies.”