Weeks after it was first announced that the carmaker used "defeat device" software in diesel cars to cheat U.S. emissions tests, Volkswagen is no closer to implementing a plan for fixing the affected cars.

But new information hints at just how far back Volkswagen's concerns over emissions standards may go.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel complained about tough emissions standards back in 2010, said Mary Nichols, head of the California Air Resources Board (CARB)--which oversees that state's strict emissions rules.

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Nichols recalled a meeting that took place between herself, Merkel, and then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger about five years ago to German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche. A CARB spokesperson confirmed her comments to The Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

The meeting took place at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills April 4, 2010, according to Nichols.

Instead of addressing the governor, Merkel directly addressed Nichols, saying that California "with its very strict nitrogen oxide limits is hurting German carmakers," Nichols recalled.

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI SE

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI SE

She said she was surprised that Merkel had such specific knowledge of the emissions rules--and German carmakers' worries about meeting them.

Nichols said she has "never experienced a similar intervention against our environmental laws by a politician."

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She is now taking a very aggressive stance against VW in light of its cheating.

In the same interview, Nichols criticized Volkswagen, saying it is not handling its response to the scandal correctly, according to Reuters.

2014 Volkswagen Beetle TDI

2014 Volkswagen Beetle TDI

She called the scandal the "biggest direct breach of laws that I have ever uncovered."

The company's actions "will certainly lead to high penalties," she said.

MORE: Volkswagen Proposes 2.0-Liter Diesel Fixes As Crisis Continues

Volkswagen recently submitted a proposal for fixing the 482,000 2.0-liter TDI cars to CARB and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

But details of the plan will not be made public for now, and Volkswagen has not discussed a timetable for completing recall work on the affected cars.

[hat tip: Joseph Dubeau]


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