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VW to Retrofit Suspect Diesel Cars to Meet Emission Standards

But fix won’t prevent consumer lawsuits, and costs could be “disastrous.”

by on Sep.29, 2015

New Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller, shown during the debut of the Porsche Cayman.

Volkswagen will attempt to resolve a scandal involving cheating on diesel emissions tests by retrofitting 11 million vehicles with hardware it expects will bring them into compliance with government pollution standards in the U.S. and other parts of the world.

Customers will be contacted “in the next few days” with details of the fix, said Matthias Mueller, who was named CEO last week after predecessor Martin Winterkorn took responsibility for the scam. VW was found by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to have used a “defeat device,” software that could recognize when one of the vehicles was undergoing emissions test. Otherwise, the diesels would be allowed to produce up to 40 times the legal limit of smog-causing oxides of nitrogen.

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The retrofit comes as VW faces potential EPA fines of more than $18 billion in the U.S., as well as a criminal investigation. Similar problems face it abroad, German authorities demanding a fix by October 7th. But beyond the actual cost of the repairs – estimated by some analysts at $6.5 billion – the retrofit actually could exacerbate the legal dilemma the maker faces in the U.S. where a number of class action lawsuits by consumers have already been filed.