Even Fixed VW Diesels Might Emit More Pollutants Than Law Allows

Image courtesy of Benedict Benedict

As part of its $15 billion settlement package to begin resolving its use of so-called “defeat devices” in 500,000 diesel-engine vehicles in the U.S. to skirt emission standards, Volkswagen has agreed to pay $2.7 million to establish a fund to reduce nitrogen oxide in any area of the U.S. were VW’s emissions-cheating vehicles were located. But it turns out those funds aren’t just for past emissions, they’re also for future ones. 

That’s because any fix that Volkswagen creates for the affected vehicles won’t actually bring them into line with federal and state emissions standards, sources tell Bloomberg.

The issue applies to the oldest VW vehicles affected by the scandal — 2-Liter diesel-engine cars including Jetta, Golf, and Beetle models starting with the 2009 model year.

“For reasons they didn’t state, they’re allowing fixed vehicles to not be fixed, but to allow vehicles to emit twice as much pollution as they otherwise would allow,” said Daniel Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign. “I presume the government tried to weigh various alternatives, and this was the least worst they could come up with.”

Of course, we don’t actually know what the fix for these vehicles will be. Any remedy must be approved by the EPA and CARB prior to being made available to vehicle owners.

The automaker is expected to propose fixes for the issues starting in November.

Just last week, the California Air Resources Board rejected a proposed fix for thousands of 3.0 liter diesel-engine VW vehicles.

CARB tells Bloomberg that it estimates that when all of the affected vehicles are fixed they will only be cutting emissions by 80% to 90% over current levels.

Because CARB estimated that the cars emit as much as 40 times the permitted amount of nitrogen oxide, the reduction wouldn’t be enough to make the vehicle fully compliant with clean air laws, Bloomberg reports.

And so, as part of the $15 billion settlement, VW will pay to fully mitigate the environmental harm from past and future emissions related to the affected vehicles, David Clegern, a spokesman for the Air Resources Board, tells Bloomberg.

Additionally, the settlement requires VW to fix or buyback 85% of affected vehicles. If that level of repair isn’t met by June 30, 2019, the carmaker will pay $85 million more into the environmental mitigation fund for each percentage point it is short.

This will be used to further offset past, current, and future pollution emitted by the cars in excess of clean air laws.

Even After Recall, VW’s Dirty Diesels Won’t Meet Air Standards [Bloomberg]

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