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VW: Deadline looms for US settlement plan

US District Judge Charles Breyer wants to know exactly how disgraced German carmaker Volkswagen is hoping to rectify the situation surrounding its emissions-cheating scandal in the United States. There'll be no mercy.

In February, US District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco gave Volkswagen and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a deadline of March 24 to come up with a plan for how to deal with the 580,000 diesel vehicles said to run on US roads with built-in emissions manipulating software.

VW and EPA had long been at loggerheads over the scandal, and it was unclear whether Volkswagen would present a sustainable solution to the problem in time for a court hearing on Thursday. Experts said a potential settlement could include buybacks and an agreement to repair at least some of the affected cars, making sure they complied with US emissions regulations.

Volkswagen spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said it had been the carmaker's "top priority to identify a solution for the affected vehicles," adding VW would continue to "cooperate fully with EPA and the California Air Resources Board to achieve this goal."

VW

faces more than 500 civil lawsuits

that have consolidated before Charles Breyer, who's retained a former FBI director as a settlment adviser.

Watch video 00:50

Emissions scandal hurt Audi’s 2015 profits

New charges and recalls

In the latest twist in Volkswagen's pollution scandal, The US state of Kentucky announced it was suing Volkswagen, as well as its subsidiaries Audi and Porsche, over the emissions-cheating software, adding to the number of legal battles facing the German carmaker in North America and elsewhere.

Kentucky joined the states of New Jersey, Texas, West Virginia and New Mexico in initiating their own legal action against Volkswagen, going beyond the charges already being pursued by the US federal government.

Investigations are being conducted into Volkswagen by 48 US state attorneys.

"Volkswagen must be held accountable for its false and misleading promotion and sales of its vehicles," Kentucky's Attorney General Andy Beshear said.

Added irritation

Meanwhile, Volkswagen reported Wednesday it was recalling 177,000 of its B8 Passat vehicles in Europe, citing a potential electrical fault. Germany's automobile oversight authority said an incorrect plug connection in the affected vehicles could possibly lead to an engine failure.

A Volkswagen spokesperson called the recall small-scale and said no related accidents had been reported so far.

jtm/hg (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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