Volkswagen submits fix for half a million U.S. diesels

Last Updated Nov 23, 2015 12:10 PM EST

Volkswagen has submitted its draft recall proposal to federal and California officials as a first step toward retrofitting diesel cars with software intentionally designed to bypass standards for air pollution.

The German automaker met a late Friday deadline in offering a plan to fix the 482,000 diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. that it acknowledges were outfitted with devices to cheat pollution tests.

However, details of plan submitted were not released.

The California Air Resources Board has 20 business days to review the proposal before accepting it, rejecting it or requesting it be modified or asking for more information. "We won't be making anything public until we're sure the best solutions have been determined and VW has explained how those solutions will be made available to owners," Dave Clegern, a spokesperson for the board, said in an email.

Mary Nichols, head of the California Resources Board, told the German daily Handelsblatt that Volkswagen might have to buy back some of the older diesel models, according to Reuters. Newer models could be easier software fixes while older vehicles might need to be repurchased rather than outfitting with new pollution-control devices, Nichols told the Handelsblatt in an interview published Friday.

"The Volkswagen Group of America, or VW, submitted a recall plan to the California Air Resources Board, ARB, responding to the violations described in ARB's September 18, 2015 letter to VW concerning illegal defeat devices in their 2-liter diesel-powered vehicles, model years 2009-2015," the board said in a statement posted on its website.

The California agency said it would consult with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during the process of developing a national recall plan, which the ARB said must set out a projected time to fix each vehicle, with the proposed remedy not only fixing the violation, but also addressed issues including drivability fuel efficiency of the cars involved.

Volkswagen and the ARB did not immediately return requests for further comment.

The EPA on Sept. 18 announced VW had created software to hide emissions of the pollutant nitrogen oxide. That news led to the resignation of VW CEO Martin Winterkorn less than a week later as well as the disclosure by VW that as many as 11 million cars worldwide were affected.

The submission to California regulators and the EPA came even as the German automaker's emission troubles broadened.

The EPA on Friday said the probe now involves all Volkswagen and Audi models with a larger 3-liter diesel engine from model years 2009 through 2016.

Before Friday, the EPA's investigation involved only some of those larger-engine models from VW, Audi and Porsche from 2014-2016, along with 482,000 vehicles with 2-liter diesel engines from the 2009-2015 model years.

The federal agency issued its statement after Volkswagen and Audi officials said in a meeting Thursday the technology in the newer cars was also in models dating back to 2009.

Volkswagen will reduce spending by 1 billion euros ($1.07 billion) in 2016 and "strictly prioritize" investments as it readies to contend with the ongoing fallout from the scandal, CEO Michael Mueller said in a statement Friday.

"What we definitely won't do," said Mueller, "is make cuts at the expense of our future."