Volkswagen's Big Diesel Settlement Is Coming This Week But The Fix Might Not Be

Illustration for article titled Volkswagens Big Diesel Settlement Is Coming This Week But The Fix Might Not Be

When Volkswagen copped to cheating on diesel emissions way back in September, few people expected the mess to drag on for 10 months after that. But here we are approaching July, and at last, Volkswagen’s settlement with regulators should be made public tomorrow. As for how the cheating diesel cars will be fixed, well, that could be another story.

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Tomorrow is the deadline for when VW must give the U.S. District Court in San Francisco the proposed final settlement aimed at remedying the diesel cheating scandal, which affects some 482,000 cars equipped with 2.0-liter turbo diesel engines in the U.S. alone. Consumer Reports says that means the agreement between VW, the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies, various class action lawsuits and owners should become public.

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The total settlement could be as much as $10 billion, Bloomberg reported last week, which for owners should include buyback offers in addition to $1000 to $7000 in cash depending on the age and condition of vehicles.

As for how the cars will be fixed exactly, Volkswagen and regulators are somehow still figuring that out. Via a source who spoke to Bloomberg:

About $6.5 billion will go to car owners and $3.5 billion to the U.S. government and California regulators, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the deal isn’t public yet. Because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board haven’t approved VW’s proposed fixes, the deal as of now includes an option for car owners to request their vehicles be repaired, but there’s no timetable for doing so or a guarantee there will be an approved fix, the person said.

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The big question for Volkswagen diesel owners is how the “fix” will affect their cars’ fuel economy and performance. If this report proves true tomorrow, those owners still won’t know that for some time.

Furthermore, the story says that since VW only has the capacity to fix 5,000 cars a week, it could take years before all 482,000 vehicles are repaired.

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Make no mistake that while this settlement agreement is finally progress in the never-ending saga that is Dieselgate, the scandal is far from over for VW and its customers. The automaker could still face additional fines from state and federal regulators, and it’s up against lawsuits from across the globe, pissed off shareholders, and profits and executive ranks in turmoil since the scandal broke.

We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

Editor-in-Chief at Jalopnik. 2002 Toyota 4Runner.

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DISCUSSION

I’ve been a member of TDIclub.com for over a decade and there has been quite a bit of discussion on this.

For those who say the motors with the urea already in place will be a simple fix are not aware of one thing. While the equipment is in place, it was designed around the cheat. They are not large enough to deal with the non-cheat operation. In fact, when VW tried to fix this via software on the Passats (with urea), they caused a new recall to be issued due to fire danger (the system is not designed for continuous use).

Also note that you cannot just “throw more urea” at the problem without increasing the catalyst size. If you simply pump in more urea you’ll just piss out (haha) ammonia.

They could lower performance and create more soot instead, which will clog DPFs faster. There’s just no easy fix.

The 3.0L TDIs may have room for a larger catalyst, but they are waiting on the 2.0 first.

Lastly, retrofitting urea into a non-urea car will be a huge hack job. First the tank will take up space in the trunk (it’s going o be at least 5 gallons). It must be heated (electrical) and must have a pump also. It needs to be plumbed to the engine compartment, which means drilling holes through the frame and body. The MFI will need to be replaced or reprogrammed for urea level warnings and other error codes. Newer models switched to a revised rear suspension to make room for the tank - these cars won’t have this advantage.

After the announcement tomorrow there will be a 30 day comment period where people will give their views. If the states decide to block registration (CA already does this) in order to “force the recall” there has already been talk of lawsuits against the states (CARB) for punishing owners due to actions not of their doing.

As someone in a CARB state, even though my car has eura, I don’t want them to force me to drive (and make payments) on a car I didn’t agree to buy (any fix will decrease performance). And if I owned one that needed a tank hacked in, you can forget about it.

I believe that the fear of being sued directly will keep most states from denying registration. Besides, the EPA only cares about the penalty, they can care less about emissions (OH SWEET IRONY). The only wildcard is California, as they would love to “leave their mark” on the whole affair and push their anti-diesel/pro-electric agenda without care about the consumer (people who pay their salary).