California regulators reject Volkswagen emissions fix

California regulators reject Volkswagen emissions fix
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Regulators in California who have been empowered to conduct auto pollution emission tests have rejected a proposal from Volkswagen to fix vehicles that were involved in the company's efforts to circumvent federal air quality standards.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) said this week that Volkswagen's plans to recall and repair its 2.0 liter diesel-powered vehicles that do not meet U.S. emission standards "contain gaps and lack sufficient detail" and "do not adequately address overall impacts on vehicle performance, emissions and safety." 

The panel said Volkswagen should submit a new proposal to fix the affected autos within 45 days. 

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"Volkswagen made a decision to cheat on emissions tests and then tried to cover it up,” CARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols said in a statement. 

“They continued and compounded the lie and when they were caught they tried to deny it," Nichols continued. "The result is thousands of tons of nitrogen oxide that have harmed the health of Californians. They need to make it right. Today's action is a step in the direction of assuring that will happen." 

Volkswagen has admitted to selling diesel models of its cars that had software installed that violated the Clean Air Act by activating required air pollution protections only during emissions tests. 

The CARB and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have accused the German automaker of installing "defeat devices" on about 482,000 diesel vehicles since 2008. The company has recently been found to have installed the devices on cars marketed under its Audi and Porsche brands.  

Volkswagen programmed vehicles to trick emissions testers into believing its diesel cars released a much lower volume of nitrogen oxide than they actually do. In regular driving, the vehicles emitted up to 40 times more pollution.

The company has offered a "sincere apology" to drivers for the emissions flap, but Volkswagen CEO Matthias Muller has denied the company acted maliciously in recent interviews. 

"We made a default, we had ... not the right interpretation of the American law," he said in an interview with NPR that aired on Monday. 

"We didn't lie," Muller continued. "We didn't understand the question first. And then we worked since 2014 to solve the problem. And we did it together and it was a default of VW that it needed such a long time."