Volkswagen’s grace period has come to an end, and now they must pay the piper.
A federal judge in the United States has pressed down hard on the accelerator in the ongoing dispute with Volkswagen, announcing a March deadline for the company to disclose whether it has found an acceptable fix for the 600,000 diesel vehicles affected by the emissions scandal.
US District Judge Charles Breyer said earlier this week that he wants a definitive answer on how the German carmakers plan to fix the affected cars by March 24th. It has been over six months since Volkswagen admitted that cheat devices were installed on several of their diesel models making it possible for them to claim false emissions figures, and Judge Breyer said that their time was running out, saying that “six months is long enough.”
The United States Justice Department have already begun the process of suing Volkswagen for up to $46 billion for violating environmental laws in America with the cheat devices. There is also still a sales ban on 2016 diesel vehicles for all Volkswagen models, as well as their Porsche and Audi brands. Regulators already rejected one of Volkswagen’s proposed plans to fix nearly 500,000 of the affected vehicles, ones fitted with the 2.0 litre engines. A solution for vehicles with the 3.0 litre engines was submitted earlier this year and is currently awaiting approval.
Representing Volkswagen, attorney Robert Giuffra responded to Breyer at the hearing in San Francisco saying that the company is making progress in trying to reach settlements with the Justice Department, the EPA and California Air Resources Board.”We are committed to resolving these matters as quickly as possible,” Giuffra said. ‘As quickly as possible’ now has a shelf-life though, March 24th. That’s twenty seven days from now. Giuffra declined to offer specifics on the settlement talks, citing that the Justice Department had requested for a modicum of privacy in the talks.
One solution that has been mentioned in the past is the possibility of Volkswagen considering buybacks as part of a settlement, a move that could cost the company billions. Breyer, possibly alluding to this idea, said a settlement may include provisions that are “not the most advantageous for the company,” but he added that the company are aware that there will have to be some difficult decisions to make “in the very near future.”