VW's European Recall Hits Delay as Passat Fix Is Pushed Back

  • VW, regulator not happy with Passat proposal, sales chief says
  • Golf repairs also don't yet have final regulatory approval

Volkswagen AG postponed a recall of about 150,000 rigged Passat sedans because it couldn’t get German regulators to sign off on the fix, another blot on the carmaker’s effort to recover from the seven-month-old diesel scandal.

The German carmaker is working to gain regulatory approval for repairs that ensure the vehicles don’t become noisier and have worse fuel economy after disabling emissions-cheating software, according to Juergen Stackmann, the VW brand’s sales chief. Volkswagen, which had planned to start recalling 2.0-liter diesel-powered Passats in March, is now switching gears and seeking approval for repairs to the higher-volume Golf hatchback instead.

“Neither the regulator nor us is happy with the result” of the fix for VW’s best-selling sedan, Stackmann in an interview at the Beijing motor show. “We’re working on a new solution to the Passat. We’ll start with the Golf in Europe. It’s not a race for time.”

The Passat postponement is the latest in a series of delays as VW tries to regain public trust after admitting it rigged 11 million vehicles worldwide to cheat on diesel-emissions tests. The company, which has yet to finalize solutions for affected U.S. vehicles, has set aside 16.2 billion euros ($18.2 billion) for repairs, customer compensation and legal risks.

No Agreement

VW also lacks final regulatory approval from German authorities for the Golf, meaning those repairs can’t start immediately either. Though the recall began in January, VW has so far only called back the fewer than 10,000 affected Amarok pickup trucks. Despite the sluggish start, Volkswagen insists it can ramp up the rate of repairs and work through most of the 8.5 million cars needing fixes across Europe this year. There has not been “a change to what we’ve communicated” on a time frame, a spokeswoman said.

The cheating software deactivated pollution controls for nitrogen oxides in normal driving conditions. The fix needs to ensure that the cars can filter out the smog-inducing pollutants without burning additional fuel, which would generate more carbon dioxide.

VW had initially sailed past regulatory hurdles in Germany, getting preliminary approval for a low-cost fix for 1.2-, 1.6- and 2.0-liter diesel cars. The repairs involved software updates and in limited cases a new tube to regulate air flow.

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