EPA Approves First Round of Fixes for Volkswagen TDI Cars
Approved Fix Only Covers 2015 Models
The Volkswagen TDI emissions scandal, which first received widespread attention in September 2015, is far from over, and the company will likely feel repercussions from the scandal for years to come both within the U.S. and globally. However, the company has moved at least one step closer to a resolution on newer TDI car models. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a fix covering 2015 VW Beetle, Golf, Golf SportWagen, Jetta, and Passat models, as well as 2015 Audi A3 models. The fix only covers 2015 models because they’re equipped with the newer-generation EA288 turbodiesel I-4 engines. All EA288 vehicles sold in the U.S. came originally equipped with a urea NOx aftertreatment system. Most older TDI models, equipped with the previous-generation EA189 engine did not have a urea aftertreatment system, with the exception of the Passat TDI, which was equipped with an aftertreatment system from 2012 onward.
VW claims the fix on EA288 vehicles will not affect fuel economy, reliability, or durability. One of the big concerns among TDI owners is that any potential fix would affect the TDI’s famously spunky performance. VW did not specifically mention “performance.” Although not officially specified, it’s likely the fix will include increasing the dosing level of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) or AdBlue, VW’s trademark name for the fluid, requiring owners to replenish the fluid more frequently. The fluid specifically controls NOx emissions, the area where TDI models were found to be grossly out of compliance.
Approval for a fix on EA189 is still pending and may take substantially longer, as well as having a more detrimental impact on performance and economy. Since the engines as installed in the Golf, Jetta, Beetle, and Audi A3 were never designed to use a urea fluid aftertreatment system, any retrofit of a fluid aftertreatment system may prove prohibitively expensive, and many more of those cars may be turned back in under VW’s buyback offer. Approximately 400,000 EA189 models are still awaiting an approved fix.