After missing today’s deadline for a U.S. emissions fix, Volkswagen has been issued a new one, and will now face a summer trial if the date passes without a plan to cure its diesel ills.
The extension of the deadline until April 21 was issued by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, who had earlier set the March 24 deadline for the embattled automaker, Reuters is reporting.
The consensus of today’s meeting in California between Volkswagen, the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board was that progress had been made in reaching an agreement on how to deal with 580,000 Volkswagen diesels equipped with pollution-causing defeat devices.
Progress, however, is not a fleshed-out agreement, so the automaker was issued an extension with a firmer deadline and stated penalties as a motivator.
Breyer said that a fix could come in many forms — a mechanical or electronic fix, a buyback of the affected vehicles, or something else. Though he didn’t elaborate on the what that “something else” could be, it could be a reference to a suggestion made at a recent legislative hearing by CARB chief Tod Sax.
Sax said if Volkswagen is unable to bring its older TDI models into environmental compliance (because the modifications needed to do so would be too extensive), an option would be for regulators to “accept less than a full fix.”
If this becomes part of the solution, Volkswagen would have to compensate the state and federal government for the environmental damage from its partially-fixed vehicles. Already, sources have said the automaker is on the process of setting up two large environmental remediation funds.
In addition to the $46 billion U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit, Volkswagen faces continuing criminal investigations in Germany, a fraud case in France, and numerous smaller lawsuits from other jurisdictions and shareholders.