Judge approves $15B Volkswagen settlement – USA TODAY
German carmaker Volkswagen revealed its diesel emissions cheating cost it 16.2 billion euros for 2015 alone – and that is likely to be only a part of the total bill.
Volkswagen reached a deal with a federal judge Thursday that would give owners of some diesel vehicles the option of a buy-back or a fix. The automaker admitted last year to programming cars to cheat on emissions tests.
Volkswagen has framed a deal under which the automaker would offer to buy back almost 500,000 diesel vehicles that evade U.S. emission rules.
Volkswagen’s top executive apologized Sunday night for his company’s role in the ongoing emissions cheating scandal. CEO Matthias Mueller spoke at a Detroit restaurant on the eve of the city’s annual auto show. (Jan. 10)
Matthias Mueller apologizes for the emissions cheating scandal that has caused a loss of customer trust and the company to come under fire from the United States for their actions.
Kelly Jordan, USA TODAY
Federal authorities are suing Volkswagen over emissions-cheating software found in nearly 600,000 vehicles sold. A civil complaint against the German automaker has been made by the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday.
U.S. dealerships reported a 25% decline in sales of Volkswagen brand vehicles in November, despite heavy discounts and a strong month for the overall auto industry.
The EPA says Volkswagen installed software to cheat on emissions tests. USA TODAY’s Chris Woodyard reports.
Volkswagen says it plans to start recalling 2.8 million diesel vehicles in Germany from January of next year and the CEO of the company has warned that workers need to be prepared for pain with a freeze to all non-essential investment.
Volkswagen’s CEO Matthias Mueller has announced the automaker will delay or cancel non-essential investments in an effort to cut costs following the company’s diesel emissions scandal.
Volkswagen’s incoming chairman says the emissions scandal could pose an “existence threatening” crisis for the company. The German carmaker has until Wednesday to present a plan to fix some 2.8 million vehicles in its home market.
The U.S. automakers’ monthly sales reports prove September to be a very good month, as sales were up by approx. 15% over all. VK was able to stay in the black despite its emissions scandal but is likely to show negative numbers in October
Harris County, Texas, where Houston is located, wants Volkswagen to pay for years of pollution in the diesel emissions scandal.
Some Portlanders who own Volkswagen vehicles are getting targeted by people who are upset over the emissions scandal the German auto company is currently embroiled in.
Volkswagen owners say they feel betrayed after leaning about the automaker’s air pollution trickery involving millions of its diesel cars. (Sept. 24)
Michael Horn, the head of the Volkswagen brand in the U.S was profusely apologetic for the diesel-emissions cheating scandal that emerged on Friday and vowed to win back the trust of the U.S. consumer.
The Environmental Protection agency ordered Volkswagen recall a half-million VW and Audi diesel cars Friday, saying the company violated clean air standards by programming on-board computers to produce phony results during emissions testing. (Sept.
Volkswagen named a new CEO Friday following discovery that it programmed cars to cheat on emissions tests. Meanwhile, it faces penalties form regulators, and a potential loss in customer trust. (Sept. 26)
A federal judge on Tuesday authorized a nearly $15 billion U.S. settlement over the Volkswagen Group emissions scandal, setting into motion a massive vehicle buyback program and green-lighting environmental remediation efforts.
Judge Charles Breyer of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco approved the sweeping agreement between consumers, the U.S. government, California regulators and the German automaker in a written ruling a week after signaling he was likely to sign off.
He said the agreement, widely considered one of the largest consumer settlements in U.S. history, is “fair, reasonable and adequate.”
The settlement comes about a year after Volkswagen admitted that it rigged 11 million vehicles worldwide with software to dodge emissions standards.
The company is still facing criminal investigationsÂ by the U.S. Justice Department and German prosecutors. The U.S. probe could lead to additional financial penalties and criminal indictments.
About 475,000 Volkswagen owners in the U.S. can choose between a buyback or a free fix and compensation, if a repair becomes available. VW will begin administering the settlement immediately, having already devotedÂ several hundred employees to handling the process.
“The priority was to get the polluting cars off the road as soon as possible. The settlement does that,” Breyer said in his ruling, adding that even “under heightened scrutiny” the deal is laudable.
Buybacks range in value fromÂ $12,475 to $44,176, including restitution payments, and varying based on mileage. People who opt for a fix approved by the Environmental Protection Agency will receive payouts ranging from $5,100 to $9,852, depending on the book value of their car.
Volkswagen will also pay $2.7 billion for environmental mitigation and another $2 billion for clean-emissions infrastructure.
Deal backers include a class action group of consumers, the EPA, the California Air Resources Board and the Federal Trade Commission, which assailed VW over the company’s “false” advertisements marketing its smog-spewing diesels as “clean diesel.”
EPA and CARB helped expose the matter after a study by theÂ International Council on Clean Transportation and West Virginia University exposed differences in the emissions performance of the vehicles.
Approval marks an “important milestone in our journey to making things right in the United States, and we appreciate the efforts of all parties involved in this process,” VW U.S. CEO Hinrich J. Woebcken said in a statement. “Volkswagen is committed to ensuring that the program is now carried out as seamlessly as possible for our affected customers and has devoted significant resources and personnel to making their experience a positive one.”
The company has also agreed to a $1.2 billion settlement with dealers over the same matter.
Meanwhile, VW is negotiating a separate settlement with more than 80,000 owners of 3-liter diesel vehicles fitted with similar software. Breyer will hold a hearing Nov. 3 to get updates on those talks.
More than 336,000 of the eligible VW 2-liter owners have already registered for the settlement, though they could back out if VW can’t come up with a fix by Oct. 30, 2017. The company has yet to receive approval from the Environmental Protection Agency, and if it fails to do so, everyone will be offered the buyback option.
VW plaintiffs attorney Elizabeth Cabraser told Judge Breyer last week that the deal “set a land speed record â probably an air speed record as well.”
Fewer than 1% of eligible VW owners opted out of the deal before September deadline. People who did not respond are automatically considered to have taken the offer.
About two dozen VW owners objected to the deal during an Oct. 18 hearing. Most of the objections boiled down to complaints over the amount of the payout, while some critics also lambasted the automaker’s “clean diesel” advertising and purposeful environmental pollution.
But Breyer rejected all of those arguments in his ruling. The assertion that compensation should not be pegged to a vehicle’s mileage ignores the fact that people “who frequently drove their vehicles undeniably got more use out of them,” he said.
“The number of objections is small, and their substance does not call into doubt the settlementâs fairness,” he ruled.
Eligible owners include 2-liter diesel versions of the 2013 through 2015 VW Beetle, 2010 through 2015 VW Golf, 2009 through 2015 VW Jetta, 2012 through 2015 VW Passat and 2010 through 2013 and 2015 Audi A3. They must submit claims by Sept. 1, 2018, and can visit VWCourtSettlement.com for more information.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.