U.S. judge sets April 21 deadline for VW diesel fix

Thu Mar 24, 2016 12:27pm EDT
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By Alexandria Sage

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday gave Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) and U.S. regulators until April 21 to agree on a fix for the nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles on U.S. roadways caught up in VW's massive emissions cheating scandal.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer had earlier set a March 24 deadline for Europe's biggest automaker to explain where it stood on remediation efforts, after months of talks with the U.S. Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board.

Breyer, VW and regulators all said at Thursday's hearing in San Francisco that progress has been made in intensive negotiations, but issues remain and no settlement has been reached yet.

The remedy could involve fixing the roughly 580,000 U.S. vehicles or buybacks and other options, Breyer said.

He did not elaborate, but one central issue is whether the EPA would accept a fix that does not completely address excess on-road emissions.

Earlier this month, a California official said the state may allow partially repaired VW diesel cars to continue operating on its roads because a full fix may be impossible.

The cars are equipped with "defeat devices" that allow them to pass laboratory emissions tests despite exceeding federal standards by up to 40 times when they are driven on roads.

If no deal is reached by the April 21 deadline, Breyer said he would consider holding a trial on the issue this summer to address the vehicles that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says emit up to 40 times legally allowable pollution in real world driving.   Continued...

A flag of a Volkswagen VW car dealer is seen in Bochum, Germany March 16, 2016.   REUTERS/Ina Fassbender