EPA May Be Ready To Prod Rather Than Punish Volkswagen

This is a story that is not yet complete, so be patient. The EPA has indicated it will make a final decision what to do about the Volkswagen diesel emissions cheating later this year, perhaps by the end of April. But a report in Welt am Sonntag, a German weekly newspaper, indicates that US authorities have asked Volkswagen to produce electric vehicles in the United States as a way of making up for its rigging of emission tests. That report was picked up and republished by Reuters.

Enjoy The Silence (Volkswagen Video)

If that report is accurate, it would mean that the government is leaning more towards the collaborative approach recommended by Elon Musk and a consortium of 44 other business leaders suggesting that it would be smarter to for Volkswagen to invest in electric cars rather than be hit with massive fines. That plan has been opposed by environmental groups, who think large fines are entirely appropriate for such egregious behavior. The EPA is currently in talks with Volkswagen to figure out what to do about the nearly 600,000 VW diesels in the US that do not comply with US emissions regulations.

Welt am Sonntag, which gave no source for its report, said the EPA is asking VW to produce electric vehicles at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and to help build a network of charging stations for electric vehicles in the United States. It is not clear from the German story whether the EPA was asking VW to produce new models or existing ones.

Five months after the emissions scandal broke in the United States, Volkswagen has yet to come up with a technical fix for those 600,000 diesel cars and is facing a growing number of legal claims. “Talks with the EPA are ongoing and we are not commenting on the contents and state of the negotiations,” a VW spokesman said. The EPA declined to comment.

Meanwhile, another German weekly, Bild am Sonntag, reports that Hans Dieter Poetsch, the chairman of Volkswagen’s supervisory board, was summoned by German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt on Feb. 16 to give an update on its progress in tackling the crisis. According to the article, Poetsch pledged Volkswagen would do everything to solve the crisis, regardless of how that might impact individuals and positions at the company. VW will present its final report on the crisis to law firm Jones Day in April, Bild am Sonntag said.

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.