Unfixable Volkswagen Diesels Could Keep Living the California Dream

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
unfixable volkswagen diesels could keep living the california dream

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.

[Image: JT/Flickr]

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  • PandaBear PandaBear on Mar 09, 2016

    Technically, if the emission is 40x the limit, and VW pay for the emission improvement necessary to eliminate 40 other typical cars within limits, that'll be acceptable as the overall result is equivalent. This would likely means VW will buy 40 clunkers to crush for every VW they sold with the emission fraud. How are they going to do that cheaper than buying them back and haul them to Afghan? I don't know. It's probably cheaper if they pay Toyota Nissan and Tesla to buy their hybrid and EV emission credit.

    • DenverMike DenverMike on Mar 09, 2016

      The CAFE credits wouldn't cut it. The junk the TDIs put into the air needs to be offset with cleaner VWs, preferably gasoline powered, hybrid and especially fully electric.

  • Storz Storz on Mar 09, 2016

    The obvious solution, replace all cheater TDIs with new Golf Rs

  • Charles I had one and loved it . Seated 7 people . Easy to park , great van
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