Of the approximately 83,000 U.S. Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche models from the 2009 through 2016 model years with emissions-cheating 3.0-liter TDI V-6 engines—some of which will be bought back through a massive settlement—about 16,000 are registered in California. And California, which has set its own ZEV mandate requiring electric vehicles, has taken what might be seen as a disproportionately strong role in determining how Volkswagen makes amends—to the point where Sacramento is dictating the automaker’s product lineup.
The federal Secondary Consent Decree released this week for those vehicles included a separate document for California. The California Partial Consent Decree, ancillary to the massive federal Consent Decree that lays out how that will happen, has several state-specific stipulations that have little connection to SUVs and luxury sedans equipped with the TDI V-6. They go well beyond stating to whom Volkswagen should pay fines or how the state should spend its $800 million share of the $2 billion VW is mandated to spend for infrastructure updates. It could be the first time ever in which an automaker is required by regulators to build a particular product—a product that might not even have been in the pipeline—as punishment for wrongdoing.