Porsche CEO seeks U.S. approval of diesel engine fix in January

DETROIT (Reuters) - Porsche is confident it will win approval from U.S. authorities by the end of January for plans to bring its larger diesel models capable of cheating U.S. emissions tests in line with the law, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

Slideshow ( 2 images )

Proposals submitted to U.S. environmental authorities in December aim to make 13,000 Cayenne sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) with V6 diesel engines compliant with U.S. rules by replacing catalytic converters and running software updates for 2013 and 2014 model years and with software updates for 2015 and 2016 model years, Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said.

“We had a very positive and constructive discussion” when presenting the plans, Blume said in an interview at the Detroit auto show. “The technical aspects have all been submitted, we will wait whether there will still be proposals for corrections by the Americans,” he said.

“Everything we can do for this particular engine has been done for now and we are now awaiting feedback,” Blume said, adding that Volkswagen’s luxury division Audi drew up the technical fixes.

The 3.0 liter V6 diesel engine was designed by Audi and widely used in premium models sold by the group’s VW, Audi and Porsche brands in model years 2009 through 2016. About 85,000 models were equipped with illicit emissions-control software.

The proposal from Audi and Porsche was expected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) by early February.

Blume declined comment on the costs of the fixes and how long it would take to install the new catalytic converters but said less than half of the affected 13,000 Cayenne‎ models sold in the U.S. since 2013 would require a hardware change.

Separately, Porsche expects “moderate growth” in sales this year after boosting deliveries by almost a fifth in 2015 to a record 225,121 sports cars and SUVs, Blume said, blaming a “series of trouble spots” around the world.

The CEO also said Porsche and parent VW are discussing steps to increase capacity utilization at a VW plant in Osnabrueck, Germany where the sports-car maker builds some of its models.

“VW is generally interested in efficient production at its sites,” a spokesman for VW said, without being more specific.

Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli