Volkswagen will spend more than USD 15 billion to settle consumer lawsuits and government allegations that it cheated on emissions tests in what lawyers are calling the largest auto-related class-action settlement in US history.
Under the settlement revealed today by a US District Court in San Francisco, VW will pay just over USD 10 billion to either buy back or repair about 475,000 vehicles with cheating 2-liter diesel engines.
The company also will compensate owners with payments of USD 5,100 to USD 10,000, depending on the age of their vehicles. Although the company has been working on a repair for the vehicles for months, it appears that VW may not be able to fix the cars and will have to buy them all back, according to the documents.
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The German automaker also has to pay governments USD 2.7 billion for environmental mitigation and spend another USD 2 billion for research on zero-emissions vehicles. Volkswagen also settled with 44 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico, which also sued the company, agreeing to pay about USD 603 million. That brings the total settlements announced today to USD 15.3 billion. VW is still facing billions more in fines and penalties as well as possible criminal charges.
Volkswagen has admitted that the 2-liter diesels were programmed to turn on emissions controls during government lab tests and turn them off while on the road. Lawyers are still working on settlements for another 80,000 vehicles with 3-liter diesel engines. The company got away with the scheme for seven years.
As part of the settlement, VW must offer to buy back most of the affected cars, or terminate their leases. That’s because, according to court documents filed today, there currently is no repair that can bring the cars into compliance with US pollution regulations. If VW does propose a repair, it must be approved by the
Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.
Owners who choose to have VW buy back their cars would get the clean trade-in value from before the scandal became public on September 18, 2015. The average value of a VW diesel has dropped 19 per cent since just before the scandal began. In August of 2015, the average was USD 13,196; this May it was USD 10,674, according to Kelley Blue Book.