DETROIT — Volkswagen resisted U.S. government efforts to recall more cars and trucks to fix potentially deadly Takata air bags – telling safety regulators that a recall isn’t necessary.

But the German automaker, already in hot water with the government for cheating on U.S. pollution tests, eventually agreed to the recall, according to documents posted Friday on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

Volkswagen AG is recalling about 850,000 Audi and VW vehicles in the U.S. from model years 2006 to 2014. But in a letter to the safety agency, the company said the request to recall most of the Volkswagens “may be overbroad.” The letter said most VW and Audi vehicles have air bag inflators made at Takata’s factory in Freiberg, Germany, which have not experienced failures like those made in the U.S. and Mexico.

The letter and lengthy negotiations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over how to fix diesel engines that pollute too much show a willingness on Volkswagen’s part to push back against federal agencies when it doesn’t agree. But in the EPA case at least, it’s likely to bring millions of dollars in fines and perhaps even criminal charges.

VW’s letter said both the Mexico and U.S. factories had problems controlling humidity, which has been blamed for causing the inflator failures. Deficiencies at the plants were resolved when a U.S. factory in LaGrange, Georgia, closed in 2005 and air conditioning was added to a plant in Monclova, Mexico, in 2011, the letter said.

“Our understanding is that Takata’s Freiberg plant does not suffer from the same deficiencies,” VW wrote in the Feb. 9 letter to NHTSA. The German plant has air conditioning, VW wrote. “We further understand that the Freiberg plant enjoys more consistent personnel, adding to the stability of the product there,” the letter said. VW did not start using Mexican-made inflators until the 2012 model year, according to the letter.


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