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US EPA, CARB announce Consent Decree for Volkswagen 3 liter diesel vehicles

20 December 2016

In a partial settlement announced today by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the State of California, automakers Volkswagen AG, Audi AG and Porsche AG have agreed to recall 83,000 model year 2009 through 2016 3.0 liter diesel vehicles sold in the United States that were equipped with “defeat devices” to cheat emissions tests, in violation of the Clean Air Act and California law. For the older vehicles, Volkswagen is required to offer to buy back the vehicles or terminate leases. For the newer vehicles—if Volkswagen demonstrates it can make the vehicles compliant with the certified exhaust emission standards—it will have to fix the vehicles and will not be required to buy the vehicles back.

Volkswagen is also required to pay $225 million into a national mitigation fund to fund projects that will reduce NOx emissions. California will receive about $41 million of that money for mitigation programs in the state. These mitigation money are in addition to the $4.7 billion Volkswagen will spend on emission mitigation projects under the 2.0 liter engine consent decree.

The EPA has estimated the overall cost of the 3.0 liter engine federal settlement at about $1 billion. The cost of the earlier 2.0 liter engine settlement can reach up to $14.7 billion.

The affected older vehicles (referred to as “generation 1” vehicles) are the 2009 through 2012 Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q7 diesel models. The affected newer vehicles (referred to as “generation 2” vehicles) are the 2013-2016 Volkswagen Touareg diesels, 2013 through 2015 Audi Q7 diesels, 2013 through 2016 Porsche Cayenne diesels, and 2014 through 2016 Audi A6 quattro, A7 quattro, A8, A8L and Q5 diesel models.

This case affects about 83,000 vehicles nationally, including almost 15,000 in California. The engines were built by Audi and used in all models manufactured by the three companies. The engines used urea SCR aftertreatment for NOx reduction.

The generation 2 vehicles appear to be likely candidates for a successful emissions compliant modification, said the EPA. However, no modification has been approved, and if the manufacturers cannot provide one, these vehicles will become eligible for buyback or lease cancellation as well.

In addition to the federal settlement, Volkswagen negotiated a separate Consent Decree with the State of California. Under the California agreement, Volkswagen will pay $25 million by July 1, 2017, to support efforts to make zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) available to more Californians. The California settlement also requires the manufacturers to provide at least three new models of electric vehicles for sale in California—including at least one SUV model—before 2019.

The consent decrees that document the settlement are subject to approval by the court following a 30-day public comment period on the national version.

Source: US EPA | California ARB