Volkswagen’s efforts to smooth over its emissions-cheating scandal in the US are off to a terrible start.
California state regulators have rejected the German automaker’s recall plan for US diesel cars currently in violation of the state’s emission standards.
The California Air Resources Board said on Tuesday (Jan. 12) that Volkswagen’s proposals were too vague and failed to “adequately address” the impact the repairs will have on performance, emissions, and safety.
The rejected plan was for 2.0 liter vehicles with software that allows them to emit 40 times the legal limit of pollutants. The company is due to submit another recall proposal for the affected 3.0 liter vehicles by Feb. 2.
Volkswagen is also in ongoing talks with the US Environmental Protection Agency to find a fix for the nearly 600,000 cars affected around the country, and is expected to present a plan on Wednesday.
In the meantime, the beleaguered automaker has been working to boost its image amid declining sales.
CEO Matthias Mueller, on his first official visit to the US, didn’t help matters when he told NPR that the company “didn’t lie” to regulators about the emissions-cheating hiccup.
Fielding questions at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mueller said the emissions issue was a “technical problem” that stemmed from Volkswagen’s misinterpretation of American law, rather than a concerted effort to cheat emissions tests, as US regulators have alleged.
He went on to say that Volkswagen “didn’t lie” when first asked about the discrepancies between test and road emissions in its diesel cars. (The defeat device at the center of the issue rigs vehicles to perform differently on the road than they do in tests.) Volkswagen just misunderstood what the EPA was asking, Mueller said.
Earlier, the EPA reportedly said Volkswagen danced around the issue for year before coming clean.