Thursday 14 December 2017

US judge due to hear Volkswagen emissions fix update

A judge is due to hear from Volkswagen about its emissions fix for diesel cars
A judge is due to hear from Volkswagen about its emissions fix for diesel cars

Volkswagen is expected to reveal the company's progress on a fix to make nearly 600,000 diesel cars comply with clean air laws.

Senior US District Judge Charles Breyer is due to receive an update from the car maker's lawyers about its efforts at a status conference in San Francisco.

Judge Breyer told Volkswagen lawyer Robert Giuffra last month that he wanted to know by Thursday whether the German manufacturer had come up with an emission fix for the cars that was technologically feasible and acceptable to the US Environmental Protection Agency, warning of consequences if the firm did not act quickly.

Volkswagen admitted in September that it intentionally defeated emissions tests and put dirty vehicles on the road. The cheating allowed cars to pass laboratory emissions tests while spewing levels of harmful nitrogen oxide at up to 40 times the level allowed when operating on real roads.

The Department of Justice has sued Volkswagen on behalf of the EPA and the company is also facing lawsuits from angry owners. Those cases are both before Judge Breyer.

During last month's hearing the judge said six months was long enough to determine whether there was an engineering fix for the vehicles.

"It's not just that these vehicles on the road can't be sold or can't be crated," he said. "It is the fact that they are polluting and therefore we must address it."

Volkswagen has been in talks with regulators about a solution for the vehicles. In January, the California Air Resources Board rejected Volkswagen's recall plan for some of its most popular diesel models, saying it was unacceptable for reasons including that it did not include adequate information about how the fix would affect future emissions results.

Michael Steel, a lawyer at Morrison & Foerster who has advised car manufacturers about air quality matters, said Judge Breyer may not be happy if Volkswagen had little progress to report. He said the judge could step in and propose his own solution.

Lawyers for Volkswagen owners, meanwhile, are increasing pressure on the company to find a fix for the cars by proposing a July trial on the issue. They have called on the firm to buy back the affected vehicles.

Press Association

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