After nearly two years since Volkswagen admitted to cheating emissions tests on over 475,000 diesel vehicles, the EPA and California Air Resources Board have approved a fix for over 84,000 offending vehicles. Only a few hundred thousand more to go!
All of this is to say those vehicles that have been bought back might soon be on the road again, soaking up miles and sipping fuel, just as the diesel gods would want.
Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter Dieselgate covered nearly 475,000 vehicles, and offered all owners the opportunity to sell their cars back to the company for a handsome payout. Most owners took advantage of that offer, sending hundreds of thousands of Volkswagen Jettas, Passats, Golfs, Beetles and Audi A3s to regional holding facilities like the one shown below.
But there’s good news for some of those sad, lonesome TDIs sitting neglected in those quiet parking lots: the EPA announced today that it and the California Air Resources Board—after many months of discussion with VW engineers and execs—has approved a fix for 2012 to 2014 Volkswagen Passats with automatic transmissions. This, Reuters points out, covers 84,390 cars.
It’s been a long road to finally get to this point, as the Dieselgate settlement—which included terms allowing VW to repair their cars and subsequently resell them—was approved nearly a year ago. Since then, VW has had to submit a whole slew of test data that proves to the EPA and CARB that the vehicle modifications don’t significantly reduce reliability and fuel economy. The EPA elaborates on what went into this approved fix, saying:
[we examined and evaluated] test data, software descriptions and files, onboard diagnostic system functionality, durability demonstration results, auxiliary emission control device (AECD) descriptions, consumer disclosures, extended warranty plans, and various statements of compliance therein...[we conducted] our own extensive testing of four vehicles equipped with the Proposed Emissions Modification.
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The press release goes on, saying the approved modification for these “generation two” TDIs simply involves a software change that replaces the defeat device (which made changes to the emissions strategy when it sensed the vehicle was being tested) with proper software that “directs the emission controls to function effectively in all typical vehicle operations.”
This fix comes after the EPA and CARB approved VW’s modification proposal for approximately 70,000 2015 model year vehicles. This means a total of about 150,000 of the 475,000 affected 2.0-liter vehicles now have an approved modification that reduces emissions significantly (though, it’s worth noting, the repairs don’t bring emissions down to levels for which the cars were originally certified).
VW has ten days to notify owners of this modification option. For those who kept their TDI, this means they’ll be able to have their car modified, at which point they will receive VW’s cash restitution (which ranges from $5,000 to about $10,000).
This also means that every automatic 2012 to 2014 Passat that has been turned in as part of the buyback will be eligible for resale. So if you’re looking for a fuel efficient diesel with a huge warranty, keep your eyes peeled (the exact date for the modification rollout isn’t clear). Sadly, you’ll have to make do with the automatic.