The top U.S. environmental official expressed uncertainty about whether the Obama administration and Volkswagen AG will meet an April 21 court deadline to come up with a plan to address excess emissions from 580,000 diesel vehicles sold in the country.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters that the two sides were in “really robust” ongoing talks but said she did not know if they would agree to a deal by April 21. She declined to say if the administration would accept a partial fix of the polluting vehicles or if it would insist that Volkswagen offer to buy them all back.
VW, Europe’s biggest automaker, faces its biggest crisis in recent memory after it acknowledged in September that it had rigged exhaust emission tests for up to 11 million vehicles worldwide.
Last month, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer gave VW and U.S. regulators until April 21 to offer a “concrete proposal” for addressing the polluting cars. Both sides must “resolve” what is to happen to the cars by that date, Breyer said.
If no deal is reached by then, Breyer said he would consider holding a trial this summer.
Volkswagen spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said the automaker was continuing to work with the EPA and California, declining to offer an opinion on whether they will reach a deal by April 21.
The remedy could involve fixing the roughly 580,000 U.S. vehicles, or buybacks and other options, Breyer said.
The U.S. Justice Department in February sued VW for up to $46 billion for violating federal environmental laws. The company and its Audi and Porsche brands remain barred from selling any new 2016 diesel models in the United States.