By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board said Tuesday they had approved an emissions fix for 24,000 Audi 3.0-liter passenger cars as Volkswagen AG looks to move beyond its diesel emissions crisis.
The new approval covers 2014-2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L and Q5 diesel vehicles. The approved fix entails removing defeat device software that reduced emission control effectiveness and replacing certain hardware components. Previously, regulators approved a fix for 38,000 other 3.0-liter diesels.
VW said it was pleased and noted it has won approval for fixes for more than 75 percent of 3.0-liter diesels, and hopes to win approval for remaining diesels soon, nearly 20,000 vehicles.
The approvals will result in significant savings for the automaker.
Under a settlement approved by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in May, VW would have been forced to offer to buy back the vehicles if it had not won government approval for a fix.
In the settlement, VW agreed to spend at least $1.22 billion to fix or buy back nearly 80,000 vehicles with 3.0-liter engines. It also agreed to pay owners of vehicles who obtain fixes between $8,500 and $17,000.
Volkswagen, the best-selling automaker worldwide in 2016, could have been forced to pay up to $4.04 billion if regulators failed to approve fixes for all 3.0-liter vehicles.
Separately, a state court judge in Alabama dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday filed by the state against Volkswagen. Last month VW settled a separate state lawsuit filed by New Jersey for $69 million.
In 2016, Breyer approved a separate settlement for Volkswagen worth up to $14.7 billion, requiring it to buy back 475,000 polluting vehicles with 2.0-liter engines.
In total, VW has now agreed to spend up to $25 billion in the United States to address claims from owners, environmental regulators, U.S. states and dealers and to make buyback offers.
In April, Volkswagen, which admitted to circumventing the emissions control system in U.S. diesel vehicles, was sentenced to three years’ probation after pleading guilty to three felony counts.
VW said in September it was taking another $3 billion charge to fix U.S. diesel engines, lifting the total bill for its emissions scandal to around $30 billion.
The company is working to put the two-year-old “Dieselgate” scandal behind it, and seeking to transform itself into a mass-market electric car company.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)