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U.S. says no deal reached with VW CEO to fix diesel emissions

WASHINGTON -- U.S. environmental officials said Wednesday that no agreement with Volkswagen had been reached on how to fix nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles that emit up to 40 times legally allowable limits after a meeting with the company's chief e...

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Volkswagen CEO Matthias Muller speaks at a media reception Sunday in Detroit, Mich. Reuters

WASHINGTON - U.S. environmental officials said Wednesday that no agreement with Volkswagen had been reached on how to fix nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles that emit up to 40 times legally allowable limits after a meeting with the company’s chief executive officer.
A spokeswoman for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement after the hour long meeting with VW CEO Matthias Mueller that the agency appreciated the conversation.
“We will continue to work toward a solution,” the spokeswoman said.
Mueller said earlier this week that he planned to propose a fix at the meeting, which the German automaker had requested. Neither VW nor the EPA would answer questions about whether the proposal was made or how it may have been received.
The meeting, which also included Herbert Diess, head of the company’s VW brand, came one day after California rejected VW’s plan submitted in December as “inadequate” and not fast enough - and EPA agreed.
Mueller left the agency headquarters without making any comments.
“We appreciate the time that Administrator McCarthy took to meet with us,” the company said in a statement. “Volkswagen will continue to fully cooperate.”
In Detroit, Chris Grundler, who heads the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, said at an Automotive News forum that the agency wanted a fix as soon as possible.
“We are in a hurry,” he said but offered no timetable for approving one, or details on why VW’s initial proposal fell short.
On his first U.S. visit since the emissions scandal erupted in September, Mueller has been meeting with government officials in Washington since late Monday.
Mueller said on Sunday that he believed a new catalytic converter system could be fitted to most affected U.S. vehicl es in a solution he believed might satisfy regulators.
However, he also appeared to play down the seriousness of the cheating by Europe’s biggest carmaker during an interview aired by National Public Radio.
Mueller blamed the scandal on a misunderstanding and called it a technical, not an ethical, problem.
The remarks, coupled with the time it has taken Mueller to visit the United States since becoming CEO in September, drew criticism in the United States and raised fresh questions over Volkswagen’s handling of the crisis.
A union source close to the German company’s supervisory board ‎said Wednesday he was “astonished” by Mueller’s remarks.
“Those comments are anything but helpful and should have never been made,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the subject.

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