Volkswagen agreed (on Thursday, April 21, 2016), to repair or buy back nearly 500,000 diesel cars in the United States that are equipped with illegal emissions software.
Following the filing of class action lawsuits from thousands of disgruntled car buyers of certain models that were affected, the once largest car maker in the world, VW, reached a proposed settlement in San Francisco federal court with the federal government as well as with lawyers for the car owners. The final settlement still needs to be approved by the court, which could take months.
The proposed settlement did not include fines that could be in the millions as well as additional compensation for the affected vehicle owners stemming from VW’s admission that the car maker rigged the diesel engines so it could pass pollution emission tests required by the federal government.
The settlement was reached in principle and was reported to the judge hearing the matter, Judge Charles R. Breyer, although many details of the settlement still need to be worked out. Judge Breyer has said that owners will receive additional “substantial compensation” and that the final agreement “will fully address any excess emissions and environmental consequences.” Lawyers in the matter have until June 21 to complete details of the settlement agreement after which time members of the public will be given a chance to comment on the settlement agreement.
Reportedly, owners of some 480,000 Volkswagen and Audi A3 models with 2-liter engines will have the option to get their cars fixed so they are emissions compliant with clean air laws or sell them back to the company. A solution for about 100,000 additional cars with 3-liter diesel engines, including Audi and Porsche models, has not yet been agreed to. The affected cars were models years 2008 to 2015. This proposed settlement does not impact affected cars sold in Europe.
In the meantime, the affected cars are still emitting illegal levels of pollutants, particularly nitrogen oxide.
Owners of the affected vehicles should continue to monitor the progress of the proposed settlement by using the designated VW link at the Court’s website: http://www.cand.uscourts.gov/crb/vwmdl.