Vehicle owners affected by the Volkswagen and Audi diesel emissions scandal can breathe a sigh of relief as a U.S. judge has officially approved a $14.7 billion settlement. A portion of the settlement – $10.33 billion – will go toward buybacks of 2.0-liter diesel vehicles and owner compensation, and another $4.7 billion will go towards programs to offset excess emissions. The German automaker will begin buying back applicable vehicles in December.
Owners of 3.0-liter vehicles are not included in this settlement. Attorneys are currently involved in pursuing a fair resolution as part of the settlement negotiation process for 3.0-liter TDI vehicle owners.
The settlement comes more than one year after Volkswagen admitted to installing secret software in its diesel vehicles to falsely pass emissions tests. Unbeknownst to automotive dealerships, car owners and the general public at the time, Volkswagen sold and leased these diesel vehicles to consumers nationwide and these vehicles have been emitting pollution up to 40 times the legal limit. The Volkswagen engineer responsible for helping the company dodge U.S. emission standards pleaded guilty last month, and the organization still faces ongoing criminal investigation.
Volkswagen must buy back or fix at least 85 percent of the 475,000 diesel Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Passat and Audi A3 cars from 2009 to 2015 model years all covered under the settlement. Volkswagen has hired hundreds of people to handle the buybacks and compensation. The automaker is required to destroy repurchased vehicles by 2019 or the company will face additional costs.
Eligible 2.0-liter TDI vehicle owners have a choice between the buy-back option plus restitution or an emissions fix with a cash payment. Owners can visit https://claims.vwgoa.com to enter their vehicle’s VIN number to determine if they are eligible and to access the Online Claims Portal.
“Today is a landmark day when this innovative settlement can be put into action, investing billions of dollars into public health protections to remedy these serious violations,” said Cynthia Giles, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator, in a Reuters article.
Simmons Hanly Conroy has been on the front lines of this litigation. Partner Jayne Conroy serves on the Plaintiff’s Executive Committee of the Volkswagen MDL, which represents the class of vehicle owners and competitor dealers. The case is No. 2672, In Re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, And Products Liability Litigation.
Owners have until September 2018 to submit the necessary paperwork to sell back vehicles.