— Regulators have approved a procedure for the Volkswagen Group to fix most of the affected SUVs in its ongoing emissions scandal. With the remedy, about 90 percent of the cars involved in the scandal now have a fix.
Related: VW Diesel Crisis: Timeline of Events
On Friday, the EPA and California Air Resources Board approved remedies to curb illegal emissions from the diesel 3.0-liter V-6 on certain 2013-16 Porsche Cayenne, 2013-16 Volkswagen Touareg and 2013-15 Audi Q7 SUVs. VW will notify owners of the free fix, which comes with additional compensation of reportedly $8,500 to $17,000 depending on the car. ( Audi and Porsche are Volkswagen Group brands.)
All told, the fix affects some 38,000 cars on U.S. roads, VW said. The procedure will remove so-called "defeat devices" that dial back the effectiveness of emissions-control systems under most driving situations, according to the EPA. It involves software and hardware modifications for an older batch of the SUVs — the 2013-14 Touareg and Cayenne, plus the 2015 Q7 — and software modifications alone for the 2015-16 Touareg and Cayenne.
In an Oct. 20 letter posted online, the EPA notes that regulators tested four cars equipped with the modifications before approving the procedure. The automaker has 10 days to notify owners and lessees that it's available, the letter stated.
The approval required VW to prove the fix would bring the SUVs into emissions compliance "without negative impacts to vehicle reliability or durability," the EPA said in a separate statement. Still, it's unclear if the fix will affect attributes like mileage or performance. It's up to each brand to "highlight for customers [the] differences in vehicle attributes that would be anticipated from these fixes," the EPA added. Asked to name those differences, if any, a Volkswagen spokesperson declined to answer until customer letters go out.
All four-cylinder diesels and about three-fourths of the V-6 diesels involved in the scandal are under a buyback program, and the vast majority of the whole group now have a fix. Today's announcement introduces a repair for about half the pool of affected V-6 diesels, while some 98 percent of nearly half a million four-cylinder diesel cars involved in the scandal also have a remedy available.
Still, a repair remains unapproved on about 44,000 Audi models: the A6 and A8 sedans, the A7 hatchback and the Q5 SUV, all with the diesel 3.0-liter V-6 from the 2014-16 model years. In a statement to , Volkswagen said it's "working closely with our regulators to develop approved solutions for the remaining 3.0-liter TDI [diesel] V-6 vehicles as quickly as possible."