Volkswagen diesel buyback proposed; now what about fix, timing, compensation?

April 21, 2016

In a San Francisco federal court, Volkswagen today formally submitted its proposal to remedy the excessive tailpipe pollution of nearly a half a million vehicles with software designed to circumvent emissions tests—and emissions that were, in some cases, many times the legal limit.

Included in the plan is the offer to buy back all 480,000 four-cylinder diesel models from the 2009 through 2015 model years.

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VW’s plan also reportedly includes an allowance for up to $5,000 in compensation to owners, but the details of that arrangement haven’t yet been announced. The buyback program will also not include about 82,000 Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche models with the larger 3.0-liter TDI V-6 engine, which was also found to be out of compliance. Details on the fix for those models are also forthcoming.

The hearing sets in motion the process by which Volkswagen will comply with the U.S. government; but it doesn’t yet address how or when consumers will see their vehicle either fixed or bought back.

Volkswagen now faces a 30-day negotiation deadline, set by the federal judge. That’s followed by a public comment period and period of review.

The automaker faces billions in EPA fines for the vehicles that are out of compliance; that’s in addition to customer lawsuits and others focusing in on fraudulent advertising.

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The automaker released this statement after the hearing:

Volkswagen is committed to earning back the trust of its customers, dealers, regulators and the American public. These agreements in principle are an important step on the road to making things right. As noted today in court, customers in the United States do not need to take any action at this time.

Where does that leave the timing for when customers will see compensation, and when the affected overly polluting diesel models will be either fixed or removed from the roads?

Whichever option VW drivers end up accepting, resolution from this sordid affair could still be many months ahead.

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