Volkswagen and the California Air Resources Board will start testing fixes for the company’s cheating diesel models. The German automaker needs the approval of both CARB and the EPA before it can begin installing the fixes for nearly 500,000 cheating American TDI models.
The changes for the cheating 2.0-liter, turbo diesel four-cylinders will include both hardware and software fixes. According to Reuters, the changes need to improve emissions performance to within 80 to 90 percent of federal pollutions standards. 10 to 20 percent is an awful lot of wiggle room, but Uncle Sam is giving the company a pass because its proposed settlement includes $2.7 billion to reduce diesel pollution from other sources.
According to CARB boss Mary Nichols, VW has been extremely open about the fixes. “They brought in a whole new team of people to work on various aspects of this,” Nichols told Reuters. “There’s just a greater sense that we’re dealing with people who have access to the decision makers in Germany, and who understand their credibility is on the line.”
At this point in the game, playing nice is in VW’s best interest – getting regulatory approval for the fixes could reduce the number of vehicles the company needs to buy back. Volkswagen faces the possibility of buying back nearly 500,000 cheating TDI models, an expense that could cost nearly $15 billion. While the company is probably crossing fingers, toes, and everything else it can hoping for approval from CARB, and fast, the decision of whether to accept the fix or take a buyback is ultimately in the hands of owners.
That means the onus is on Volkswagen to not only meet CARB/EPA’s standards for emissions, but also come up with a fix that won’t neuter the 2.0-liter TDI’s potent torque or solid fuel economy. If VW fails to manage those losses, testing for TDI fixes could be a futile exercise.