Volkswagen Offers To Buy Back Emissions-Cheating “Clean Diesel” Cars

Image courtesy of Benedict Benedict

Owners of one of Volkswagen’s 500,000 diesel vehicles equipped with “defeat devices” designed to cheat emission standards will have two options when it comes to fixing their vehicles: allow the carmaker to buy it back or have it modified to meet emissions standards. 

Those options were revealed Thursday as Volkswagen and regulators from the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board presented an “agreement in principle” to U.S. Federal Judge Charles Breyer that aims to address the emission-cheating vehicles, USA Today reports.

Breyer had given VW until today to provide him with a detailed plan to bring the affected vehicles into compliance with clean air laws and compensate owners, or risk going to trial.

While the agreement does not actually address just how VW plans to bring vehicles into compliance with federal emission standards, Breyer said the agreement showed “definite momentum to resolving these issues.”

The deal, which is still flexible, also includes a payment of “substantial compensation” that will see VW spending at least $1 billion to compensate owners of vehicles, Road and Track reports.

Exact compensation, which is still being negotiated and was not disclosed, will vary depending on the make and model of a vehicle.

However, the Associated Press suggests that owners of newer models that can be fixed through a software upgrade will receive little from the company, while the 325,000 or so owners of older cars will likely get more because the repairs could affect mileage and performance.

Road and Track reports that VW will also establish a fund for “appropriate remediation efforts” to address the excess nitrogen oxide emissions created by the vehicles.

Additionally, the company agreed to commit funding to promote “green automotive technology.”

Breyer set June 21 as a deadline for the parties to file preliminary proposals on the settlement. The court will hold a preliminary hearing on July 26. The public will then have a chance to share their thoughts on the deal before it is finalized.

“It is the court’s expectation that the parties, in addition to finalizing the agreements that I just discussed, will work expeditiously on resolving these outstanding issues,” Breyer said.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which created the “Make VW Pay” campaign shortly after the scandal broke, said the proposed settlement appears to have all the elements that it should, but the “devil will be in the details.”

“Given the nature of VW’s violations, a settlement needs to make consumers whole and compensate for the environmental damage while totaling a penalty large enough to discourage VW and others from this behavior in the future,” Mike Litt, Consumer Program Advocate at U.S. PIRG Education Fund, said in a statement. “In the meantime, it’s worth noting that further delay means that these polluting cars remain on the road – emitting up to 40 times the allowable level of pollution – for even longer.”

VW Agrees to Buy Back U.S. Diesel Vehicles Affected by TDI Emissions Cheat [Road and Truck]
Volkswagen reaches ‘substantial’ settlement to buy back, repair cars [USA Today]

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