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California says no to VW's proposed 3.0-liter diesel fix

Just when you thought everything was wrapping up...

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WOLFSBURG, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 20: The Volkswagen logo is seen at the main entrance gate of the Volkswagen group on November 20, 2015 in Wolfsburg, Germany. High-ranking Volkswagen managers meet currently inside Volkswagen headquaerts. Meanwhile Volkswagen officials are scheduled to meet with officials in the USA to present details on how the company will fix 482,000 Volkswagen vehicles sold in the U.S. affected by the emissions cheating software to comply with U.S. emissions standards. Volkswagen is coming under increasing pressure in the U.S. by officials in Washington and California to buy the faulty diesel cars back. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)
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At the end of June, I wrote that there may yet be hope for Volkswagen's 3.0-liter diesels. Lacking the defeat device that started the whole Dieselgate hullabaloo, VW had hopes that it could get a fix for its 3.0-liters submitted to and approved by regulators. That's not the case at the moment, as California just rejected that proposal.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB), a single-state analog to the national Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), rejected Volkswagen's proposed remedy for its 3.0-liter diesel vehicles, Reuters reports.

"VW's and Audi's submissions are incomplete, substantially deficient, and fall far short of meeting the legal requirements to return these vehicles to the claimed certified configuration," CARB said in a statement.

CARB claims that it won't have enough data to figure out if this fix would work for all affected VW Group vehicles until December. In the event they can't be fixed, it's likely that the feds will pressure Volkswagen to initiate a buyback similar to the program in place for 2.0-liter diesels.

Back to the drawing board.

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"We understand that today's announcement from CARB is a procedural step under California state law and relates to recall plans for vehicles with V6 3.0-liter TDI engines that were submitted previously," Volkswagen said in a statement. "We continue to work closely with the EPA and CARB to try to secure approval of a technical resolution for our 3.0-liter TDI vehicles as quickly as possible."

The feds are treating Volkswagen's two diesel engines as separate issues, because they are. Whereas the 2.0-liter models had software meant to deceive regulators and over-pollute once outside the laboratory, the 3.0-liter models merely feature a piece of software that wasn't announced to regulators. It's fundamentally different from a defeat device, but being that it wasn't brought up during certification, it's still an issue.