Business & Real Estate

California regulators order more Volkswagen recalls in pollution scandal

A Volkswagen undergoes emissions testing.
A Volkswagen undergoes emissions testing.

California regulators ordered Volkswagen to begin recalling thousands of additional diesel-engine cars Wednesday targeted in the automaker’s widening air-pollution scandal.

The California Air Resources Board told Volkswagen Group of America to submit a recall plan covering Volkswagens, Porsches and Audis equipped with 3.0-liter diesel engines.

The order affects about 15,000 cars sold in California since 2009, the time period covered by the investigation, said Air Resources Board spokesman Stanley Young. It doesn’t cover 3.0-liter cars sold in other states.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency, which is working with California officials on the Volkswagen case, hasn’t yet ordered recalls on the estimated 75,000 diesel cars sold nationally with the 3.0-liter engines. “EPA will take all appropriate enforcement action,” the agency said Wednesday.

Volkswagen has already filed a recall plan covering an estimated 480,000 of its less-powerful, 2.0-liter diesel engine vehicles, including more than 50,000 sold in California. Details of the plan, which was submitted last week, haven’t been divulged and are still being reviewed by California regulators and the U.S. EPA.

Officials say Volkswagen equipped its diesel cars with “defeat device” software that enabled the automaker to cheat on government emissions tests. The software activates the emissions control systems when the cars are tested but shuts them off when the vehicles are on the road. Automotive experts say switching off the emissions controls helps the cars with fuel mileage and performance. Scientists at the Air Resources Board’s laboratory in El Monte, acting on a tip from West Virginia University researchers, confirmed the existence of the defeat devices in July.

The California agency said it ordered the recall after officials with Volkswagen’s Audi subsidiary, which made all of the affected engines, admitted earlier this month that they didn’t comply with air pollution regulations. Volkswagen has 45 days to file a recall plan.

An Audi spokesman, speaking on Volkswagen’s behalf, said “we fully intend to work on solutions to present to regulators within this window of time.” He said the automaker was expecting the California recall notice.

Volkswagen has said it believes as many as 11 million cars worldwide were equipped with the defeat devices.

Dale Kasler: 916-321-1066, @dakasler