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Dieselgate: VW says 3-liter diesels can likely be repaired instead of bought back

VW Group’s issues in the U.S. over Dieselgate didn’t end with the recent $15 billion plus settlement plan. In addition to remaining civil and legal issues, there are more cars to be fixed. The announced settlement covered 475,000 2.0L (2 liter) diesel engines that had emissions cheating software. There are, however, an additional 85,000 3.0L diesel engine Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche cars sold by the VW group that cheated. Those cars were not involved in the $10 billion buyback and compensation plan covered under the settlement earlier in the week — the rest of the $15 billion was for penalties and required green technology investments. A Volkswagen attorney believes that because the 3.0L engines didn’t pollute so badly, they can be repaired and will not require buybacks, according to Ars Technica.

The 2.0L engines exceeded legal emissions limits by up to 40 times. The larger engines, however, which were used in the diesel versions of  Volkswagen Touaregs, Porsche Cayennes, and Audi A6s, A7 Quattros, A8s, Q5s, and Q7s, used different technology to cheat and didn’t spew as much pollution as the smaller motors. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said the 3.0L cars had illegal modification equipment. The problem with the larger engines wasn’t discovered until two months after the original, much larger batch. No one is arguing that the company didn’t cheat.

Related: VW to pay up for Dieselgate — $15 billion plus and it’s not over yet

VW’s attorney told a judge in U.S. District Court that the affected vehicles can be recalled for repair so they no longer pollute above legal limits with no significant performance degradation. The repair, which the attorney said the company is still working on, would not be complicated and would satisfy the court.

In order to avoid massive buybacks of the 3.0L vehicles, the repair plan has to satisfy both the EPA and the California Air Resources Board. If the fix passes muster with those two agencies and is approved by the court, the company will save additional billions of dollars by not having to purchase the vehicles from owners. It’s likely, however, that VW Group will still offer financial compensation to present and past owners, as well as people who leased the diesel 3.0L vehicles. So if all works out as the lawyer predicts, it will still cost VW a ton of money, just not as much as it might have.