By on August 26, 2016

Audi A7 Sportback

Volkswagen continues to claim that with enough time, it can figure out a way to fix 85,000 high-end diesel vehicles in the U.S. without having to buy them back. There’s a problem, though. Time is running out.

After the presiding over yesterday’s settlement deal between Volkswagen and its dealers, a U.S. District Court judge gave the automaker two months to submit a fix for its 3.0-liter TDI models, Reuters reports.

Volkswagen claims the fix is doable, but Judge Charles Breyer has heard this before. In June, the automaker said it was close to a fix for the defeat-device equipped VW, Porsche and Audi vehicles. That fix was soundly rejected by the California Air Resources Board in July, with the regulator calling it “incomplete and deficient in a number of areas.”

Any fix needs the approval of both CARB and the Environmental Protection Agency, so it was back to the ol’ drawing board. Breyer calls the current situation “intolerable,” and wants the dirty diesels off the road.

The automaker now has until late October to submit a fix, and was ordered by Breyer to start settlement talks. According to the report, Breyer said that Volkswagen must repair the vehicles, buy them back or offer both options. The latter option is the basis of the automaker’s $15.3 billion settlement for its 2.0-liter diesels.

With that deal weighing it down, as well as yesterday’s estimated $1.2 billion dealer settlement and looming civil lawsuits and fines, Volkswagen desperately wants to avoid more expenses. Buying back 85,000 luxury vehicles would be extremely costly.

Breyer wants an update on the settlement talks at a November 3 hearing, though the automaker still claims it can fix the vehicles. Its lawyer, Robert Giuffra, said yesterday, “We’ve got to persuade the government that we have a fix.” He added that the issue involves “two million lines of code.”

Any fix will include both software updates and modifications to the vehicles’ emissions equipment, the automaker said.

[Image: Audi AG]

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13 Comments on “Volkswagen Drags its Heels on a 3.0-liter Diesel Fix, Frustrated Judge Issues a Deadline...”

  • avatar

    The old “We’ve got 2 million lines of code” defense, huh?

    They can’t CTRL+F and find the up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, select code?

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Windows is between 30-50 million lines and nobody gives Microsoft the benefit of the doubt. 2 million is nothing.

      • 0 avatar

        2 million is a lot, and unlike Windows, where it’s all broken up into clearly defined areas (mostly), I assume “2 million lines of code” here refers purely to the ECU programming.

        Embedded stuff for an ECU just isn’t comparable to OS code written for modular portability.

  • avatar

    Looking at independent engine manufacturer packages (where the emissions after-treatment is supplied to the OEM) that box is nearly as big as the engine itself.

    Easy to see where any of this that was omitted at original manufacture isn’t easy to retrofit.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    October will be 13 months after the TDI news broke, and the 3.0 engine was initially claimed to be immune to this problem. Of course, now it’s included.

    “Volkswagen desperately wants to avoid more expenses”. Not only that, they want to avoid the inevitable viral YouTube videos showing cherry A7s and Cayennes being eaten by a car crusher, which is the sort of spectacle we saw during Cash for Clunkers:


    I don’t think VW knows what to do.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d love to hear some of the internal conversations at VW right now. I bet it’s hilarious.

      • 0 avatar

        Given their corporate culture – it probably goes something like this.

        Vader: Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

        Motti: Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcerer’s ways, Lord Vader. [Vader walks toward Motti, then slowly raises his hand] Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebels’ hidden fort– [grasps his throat as if he is being choked]

  • avatar

    The longer VW procrastinates, the more it will cost them in actual cash and in lost good will. In the end it may prove more expensive than, right at the beginning, trading even for new, comparable gasoline powered vehicles.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Steph, later for all this VW blah blah. You’re missing a very big story re GM’s Takata air bags in yesterday’s online New York Times. Is everyone on vacation?

  • avatar

    If VW wasn’t able to solve the technical issues during the prior 4 year development cycle and had to use a by-passing cheat, what good will another 2 months or even 2 years be?

    Please just buy back all the affected cars, take whatever length of time to fix them and sell them as used cars once they are fixed, or choose to crash them if that’s cheaper.

  • avatar

    As someone who has owned 6 Audis over the past 16 years, currently including a 2015 Q5 3.0TDi, it has been a bit demoralizing to watch VAG drag its feet in this situation. I really don’t think they anticipated the big hammer brought down on them by CARB and the EPA. More likely, they expected that if caught, they’d get a slap on the wrist and a fine, but that then they’d be allowed to move forward.

    The real shame of the situation is that as a result, we’re not likely to see more turbo-diesels in the US in passenger vehicles. From a functional/performance point of view, the 3.0 TDi motor is a masterpiece, proving bucket loads of smooth, quiet, fuel efficient performance that’s perfectly suited to US driving conditions. Our Q5 can hit 60 mph in less than 6 seconds, tow 7700 lbs (!!) and has averaged 31 mpg (!!!) in 25k miles since new.

    And all the while, whatever emissions it and other TDIs produce is a drop in the bucket in comparison with the diesels in all the heavy-duty applications in this country.

    While I understand the implications of the “cheat” with regards to regulations, it does seem to me that when it comes to true environmental concerns, in this case the EPA is missing the forest for the trees…

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