Matthias Mueller, the CEO of Volkswagen, is proposing a new catalytic converter that will fix the cars affected by the diesel emissions scandal.
In September 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the German carmaker installed an engine control unit (ECU) software, or a defeat device, in the diesel engines of its 2009 to 2015 models. The software detected when the cars were being tested and then fully enable the ECU system that would control emissions and make the cars pass the emission tests.
The ECU would shut off when the cars were in normal driving circumstances, resulting in higher emissions than stipulated by environmental agencies.
The company took responsibility for the scandal and proposed to fix the issue as soon as possible.
"We take full responsibility for our actions - and deeply regret that this happened. We are fully cooperating with the relevant agencies investigating these issues," said Volkswagen.
The company also issued several apology statements to customers in a bid to win back their trust.
"The recent TDI news is a disappointment to the entire Volkswagen of America family. We sincerely apologize, and we recognize this matter has jeopardized the strong relationship between our loyal owners and the brand," per Volkswagen.
During the eve of the Detroit auto show, Mueller apologized once again and confirmed the news about the catalytic converter that will fix the diesel emission manipulation.
"We have one (catalytic converter) in the works and we believe that will be a part of the technical solutions," said Mueller.
The CEO is also meeting Gina McCarthy, the administrator of the EPA, on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to make the proposal. Previously, reports suggested that the EPA and the Volkswagen have been involved in talks to find a way forward but without satisfactory results. Mueller is hoping that the EPA will accept the proposal regarding the catalytic converter to bridge the gap between the carmaker and the agency.
Mueller said that the package that Volkswagen proposes is very similar to the expectations of the EPA. However, the EPA has strict requirements in comparison to its European counterparts.
According to Reuters, German publication Süddeutsche Zeitung cites unnamed sources familiar with the matter and reports that Volkswagen may also buy back more than 100,000 affected cars in the United States or offer a new car at a substantial discount. The remaining cars will be fitted with the catalytic converter. However, Volkswagen has not confirmed its plans yet.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the EPA have filed a joint lawsuit against Volkswagen for the installation of the illegal defeat devices in about 600,000 diesel engine cars. The lawsuit alleges that the German carmaker breached public trust and endangered public health by installing the defeat devices.
Despite several apologies from Volkswagen, the federal departments want the carmaker to pay at least $2,750 as a fine for the installation of each defeat device, which can result in a total of $1.65 billion in fines.
The meeting with McCarthy is very important for Volkswagen and its outcome will determine Volkswagen's future in the United States.
As a goodwill gesture, Volkswagen is also offering a $500 Prepaid Visa Loyalty Card and a $500 Volkswagen Dealership Card, along with 24-hour roadside assistance to the owners of the affected cars in the United States. Check out this page to find out if you are eligible for the "Goodwill Package" from Volkswagen.