VW Meets With U.S. Regulators as Lawmakers Demand Buybacks

Production At the Volkswagen AG Factory As $7 Billion North American Investment Planned
Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg
  • Company plan on recalling nearly 500,000 cars due tomorrow
  • EPA and CARB are expected to review VW plan before approval

Volkswagen AG is presenting California and federal regulators with a proposal to fix vehicles it admits were rigged to pass pollution tests as two U.S. lawmakers urged the company to just buy back the 482,000 vehicles from consumers.

The California Air Resources Board had told the Wolfsburg, Germany-based automaker to present a plan by Friday for making cars such as the diesel Beetle, Jetta, Golf, Passat and Audi A3 compliant with pollution standards. VW representatives are meeting Thursday and Friday with representatives of CARB and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA will consider any submission to the California board a submission to federal regulators, according to agency spokeswoman Laura Allen.

“We’re expecting some information tomorrow, and both agencies are planning on reviewing that information,” Allen said Thursday.

Volkswagen has reeled from the revelation that its cars were deliberately engineered to appear to meet emission standards while emitting as much as 40 times the permitted smog-forming tailpipe pollution.

Gift Cards

It offered affected customers $1,000 in compensation as a good-will gesture. As of yesterday, about 120,000, or one-fourth, of the eligible diesel owners had applied. That number is expected to grow, VW spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said.

“We are seeing steady activity since the announcement,” Ginivan said. “Customers are receiving letters and we have placed ads in major publications.”

Ginivan declined to comment on specifics of the meetings with regulators or the company’s suggested remedies to fix the problems on affected vehicles.

Meanwhile, two U.S. senators frequently critical of the auto industry called on VW to buy back the affected diesel models. The $500 prepaid Visa credit card and $500 credits for work at VW dealerships being offered don’t fully compensate consumers for declining resale values, cars that pollute more than advertised or lost fuel economy, Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, both Democrats, said.

They outlined their objections in a letter to Volkswagen of America President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Horn dated Thursday.

“In response to the damages caused by VW’s illegal actions, VW has offered drivers a pittance,” the senators said. “VW should offer to buy back all vehicles that were equipped with defeat devices at fair market value.”

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