Volkswagen may buy back tens of thousands of cars with diesel engines that can't be easily fixed to comply with U.S. emissions standards as part of its efforts to satisfy the demands of regulators, according to two people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg News reported.
Negotiations between the German automaker and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are continuing and no decisions have been reached. Still, a buyback would be an extraordinary step that demonstrates the challenge of modifying vehicles that were rigged to pass emission tests.
VW has concluded it would be cheaper to repurchase some of the more than 500,000 vehicles than fix them, said the people, who asked not to be identified by Bloomberg News because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly. One person said about 50,000 cars might be bought back from their owners, a figure that could change as talks continue.
"We've been having a large amount of technical discussion back and forth with Volkswagen," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said when asked about the possibility of VW having to buy back some vehicles. "We haven't made any decisions on that."
McCarthy said VW's proposals to bring its cars into compliance with emissions standards have been inadequate so far.
McCarthy is scheduled to meet with Volkswagen chief executive Matthias Mueller at his request Wednesday in Washington — the day before the California Air Resources Board is scheduled to publicly respond to VW's proposed repairs. Mueller will be making his first visit to the United States as VW's CEO next week.