WASHINGTON -- Volkswagen of America isn’t expected to begin selling 2016 models with 2.0-liter diesel engines for several months as the EPA plans to subject the vehicles to a battery of tests to ensure they comply with U.S. emissions laws before sales can begin.
Chris Grundler, director of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality that oversees auto emissions regulations, said in an interview with Automotive News that the agency’s process to certify VW’s 2016 model year lineup powered by the 2.0-liter engines will take “a matter of months” to complete.
That process cannot begin until VW submits a new application to the EPA for certification that the 2016 model year Golf, Passat, Beetle and Jetta diesel models meet clean air standards. The automaker withdrew an application to have the vehicles certified by the EPA this week.
It’s unclear when VW plans to submit a new application. A Volkswagen spokeswoman said a timeframe for when the company plans to go back to the agency was unavailable. Whenever that happens, Grundler says “we will want to test them thoroughly and in different ways” before the agency has confidence that the vehicles comply.
The delay is another major blow for VW and its roughly 650 U.S. dealers, many of whom are struggling with profitability amid tepid sales. Diesel-powered vehicles have accounted for about 20 percent of VW’s U.S. sales this year.
Volkswagen also has to explain the function and purpose of a previously-undisclosed software feature in its 2016 diesel models’ emissions controls, which is different than the “defeat device” software at the center of VW’s violations.