VW Moving Forward With New Emissions System, Electric Power For Future Models

Volkswagen’s immediate future is in a bit of a holding pattern. The company has a plan for how to properly handle diesel emissions in new vehicles, but it can’t implement it right away. Meanwhile, its 2016 lineup of diesels has yet to win approval from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The New York Times reports that VW, which admitted last month to rigging the emissions control systems of more than 500,000 cars in the U.S. — and around 11 million worldwide — with a device that cheats emissions tests, will revamp the technology it uses to control diesel exhaust in upcoming models.

The method, called a selective catalytic reduction system, is similar to what is already in use by many carmakers: vehicles are equipped with a tank of urea-based fluid that cleans the emissions from the exhaust.

Officials with VW say the system is not part of its remedy plan for the 11 million vehicles currently awaiting a fix for their deceptive emissions systems.

The Times reports that the carmaker previously considered a similar approach back in 2007, but deemed it to be too costly. Instead, the company opted for its current method now at the center of the emissions scandal.

VW says the change to the new urea tank systems will take place “as soon as possible” for future models.

“Diesel vehicles will only be equipped with exhaust emissions systems that use the best environmental technology,” Herbert Diess, chairman of the company’s car brand, said in a statement.

In addition to revamping its diesel emissions systems, VW said on Tuesday that it plans to push ahead with the development of electric and hybrid vehicles.

The Times reports that the new technology will first be seen in the company’s 2019 and 2020 model of its Phaeton limousine.

As for the company’s more pressing matter of a 2016 model line up, the EPA says it still hasn’t determined if the vehicles’ emission-control device is legal, Reuters reports.

The software was first publicly disclosed by VW’s U.S. Chief Michael Horn during a congressional hearing last week.

“In Volkswagen’s recent ongoing discussions with the regulators, we described to the EPA and CARB that our emissions control strategy also included a software feature that should be disclosed to and approved by them as an auxiliary emissions control device (“AECD”) in connection with the certification process,” he explained at the time. “As a result, we have withdrawn the application for certification of our model year 2016 vehicles.”

Horn and VW have been mum on whether or not the software was configured before or after the emissions scandal broke on Sept. 18, and whether it is similar to the previous defeat devices.

“We have a long list of questions for VW,” EPA Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe tells Reuters. “When we have all of the answers, we will be able to make a determination” on the whether the cars can be certified for sale.

Volkswagen, in Future Cars, to Adopt New System for Controlling Diesel Emissions [The New York Times]
EPA hasn’t decided if new software on 2016 VW diesels is legal [Reuters]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.