Volkswagen's reputation restoration attempt and massive recall over its emissions scandal has already hit a wall.
The Associated Press is reporting that United States regulators have further questions about the embattled automaker's suspect software in its 2016 diesel models that were supposed to help Volkswagen's emissions systems run cleaner.
Until those questions are answered, 2016 Beetles, Golfs and Jettas will remain parked in U.S. ports, prohibited from being sold. Diesel models of the Passat sedan are also on hold. None can be used to replace current VW cars affected by the emissions scandal, either, meaning the carmaker's target dates of January to begin its recall and late 2016 to end it could be in jeopardy.
Earlier this week, Volkswagen confirmed to the AP that the "auxiliary emissions control device" in 2016 models operate differently from the "defeat" device software installed in the automaker's 2009 to 2015 models.
"We have a long list of questions for VW about this," Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for air quality at the Enironmental Protection Agency told the AP. "We're getting some answers from them, but we do not have all the answers yet."
Depending on the EPA's findings, Volkswagen could be hit with more fines. Already, the troubled automaker projects recalling 11 million faulty diesel cars and making them comply with emissions laws to cost $6.5 billion. That's in addition to the $18 billion in potential fines that Volkswagen faces for rigging the software of 11 million vehicles to cheat on its emissions tests.
If a second defeat device is found in the new software in 2016 models, it could suggest that Volkswagen's top brass are deeply entrenched in this manipulation, stripping their claim that this scandal was sparked by disgruntled software developers at the company.
"The punitive actions from the EPA are only going to get more aggressive," Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer told the AP about the likely scenario about what would happen if VW was caught cheating a second time.
According to the AP, Volkwagen is in talks with U.S. regulators to get the certification needed to sell its 2016 diesel cars.
VW's crisis is only getting worse.