There’s a chance that older Volkswagen TDI models branded as pollution monsters in the ongoing diesel emissions scandal could keep rolling along the avenues and alleyways of the Golden State.
On March 8, California’s air regulator floated the idea that diesels that can’t fully be brought back into compliance with state laws might get a pass, according to Reuters.
Tod Sax, chief of the California Air Resources Board’s enforcement division, admitted that bringing every one of the state’s approximately 82,000 afflicted diesels up to code is probably not possible.
“We will have to decide what the best approach is to dealing with these vehicles, and one of the options potentially would be to accept something less than a full fix,” Sax said at a legislative hearing.
Newer TDI models that use the urea-based diesel exhaust fluid AdBlue might be able to get by with software tweaks alone, but older models that rely on lean NOx traps (LNTs) would probably need extensive modifications.
Volkswagen’s legal department has unofficially toyed with the idea of buying back hundreds of thousands of the unfixable diesels, and the company is already snatching them out of pre-owned circulation.
Such a move would be a ray of sunshine for Volkswagen, which is facing a financial storm of declining sales, sky-high recall costs, looming fines and lawsuits.
Still, according to Sax, the company would have to fork over money to California to offset the environmental harm caused by having its somewhat less dirty diesels plying the state’s roadways.
Factoring into CARB’s decision to consider a partial-fix solution was a concern raised at the hearing by a state senator, who worried Volkswagen could sell bought-back vehicles in a foreign market with less stringent regulations.
Earlier this week, Volkswagen admitted to U.S. regulators that they couldn’t meet a March 24 deadline to submit a plan for fixing its 2.0-liter diesel models.