Volkswagen has reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice, regulatory agencies, and attorneys for compensating owners of vehicles affected by the diesel emissions cheating scandal that first came to light late last year. An agreement was originally expected on March 24th, but both regulators and VW asked for more time and were given until today.
Specific numbers haven't been released, but the agreement will give vehicle owners the option of a buyback or a fix, AP reports. In the US, roughly 600,000 cars are affected by the scandal, which involved the use of software to evade emissions testing and make the company's diesel engines seem cleaner than they actually were.
In addition to compensating individual owners, Volkswagen will also be required to fund programs to reverse the damage its excessive pollution caused — which might be more of a symbolic measure than a measurably realistic one — and promote other environmentally friendly initiatives.
"Volkswagen’s deceit is as dangerous as the smog left behind by its vehicles’ tailpipes," said the Sierra Club's California Chapter Director Kathryn Phillips in a statement. "So the final settlement needs to fix or remove all of the polluting cars still on the road, make whole the consumers who trusted the vehicles were lower polluting, and compensate for the pollution the faulty cars created."
"It’s time Volkswagen shift its focus to clean electric vehicles, without dirty tailpipes and emissions, to protect the air we breathe," Phillips continued.
"The plan for Volkswagen going forward involves buy backs, modifications and for lessees, returning vehicles. But this matter is by no means resolved, since penalties and fines still loom," said Rebecca Lindland, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "Volkswagen has to establish a fund for appropriate remediation efforts and commit other funds to promote ‘green automotive entities.’ We don’t know yet the full financial impact on Volkswagen."
The major question for affected owners, though, is exactly how much money they'll get for their car. Rumors had suggested something in the range of $5,000, which seems too low for most buybacks. We may not hear more until late June, when full details of the deal are expected to be opened up for public comment, CNBC reports.
Verge Video: The Volkswagen scandal, explained