It’s already been a long haul for owners of some 600,000 Volkswagen diesel vehicles in the U.S. affected by the emissions scandal plaguing the German automaker. Now, a federal judge has given Volkswagen until March 24 to disclose whether it has arrived at a fix for the problem that will be acceptable to U.S. regulators.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said in San Francisco that “Six months is long enough” to come up with a solution to the problem or to determine if the problem is fixable. “This is an ongoing problem,” said Breyer.
Breyer noted that back in September, Volkswagen admitted that its vehicles on U.S. roads had software that emitted pollution up to 40 times what is allowable.
Volkswagen’s Continued Woes
The months since have not been kind to Europe’s largest automaker, with one negative development after another. Among them:
- The U.S. Justice Department sued VW for up to $46 billion for violating U.S. environmental laws.
- Volkswagen cannot sell its new 2016 VW, Porsche or Audi diesel models in the U.S.
- The German automaker faces more than 500 lawsuits from owners of its affected diesel vehicles in the U.S.
- VW’s plans to fix affected 2.0-liter engines in nearly 500,000 vehicles was rejected by U.S. regulators.
- In February, VW submitted another proposal, this one for 3.0-liter diesel engines.
- The company has said it may consider buybacks of affected vehicles as part of a settlement.
- VW postponed publication of 2015 results and delayed a shareholders’ meeting as a result of difficulties putting a price tag on the diesel emissions scandal.
At the San Francisco hearing, VW lawyer Robert Giuffra said that the company is making progress trying to reach a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.
Breyer said that any settlement may have some provisions that are “not the most advantageous for the company.” The judge added that VW has some very difficult decisions to make “in the very near future,” decisions that will have “serious consequences.”