Many Americans reported hearing a long, heaving sigh yesterday afternoon. While initial reports suggested that the noise might've been caused by a great ebbing in The Force, further investigation has shown that it's more likely the collective sound of relief being uttered by 475,000 VW and Audi owners. That story and more in today's Volkswagen Dieselgate update:
1. Judge approves settlement package for 2.0-liter Volkswagen diesels: Back in June--months after the world learned that Volkswagen had sold 11 million diesels capable of cheating on emissions tests--the German automaker agreed to a $15.4 billion compensation package. Of course, that package only covered 475,000 of the illegally rigged vehicles registered in the U.S., and it still had to be approved by a federal judge.
Yesterday, that happened. In San Francisco, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer approved the package despite objections from some owners who thought that Volkswagen's offer was a little too chintzy. Every owner of a 2.0-liter Audi or VW diesel affected by the Dieselgate scandal will receive compensation ranging from $5,100 to $10,000, and Volkswagen will also repair or buy back their vehicle.
As for America's 85,000 3.0-liter Audi, Porsche, and VW diesels that also need to be fixed....
2. Audi rumored to buy back 25,000 Q7 diesels: Volkswagen has twice proposed plans to repair 3.0-liter U.S. diesels, and both times, its proposals have been shot down. Late last week, rumors began circulating that Audi was preparing to bite the bullet and buy back older Q7 diesels because there's no way to fix them. Which is a little weird, given that Volkswagen once said repairing vehicles like that would be easy and cheap.
3. Lawyers rake in $175 million: Clearly someone's gotta pay for all those billable hours U.S. lawyers racked up in the process of pushing for Volkswagen's $15.4 billion settlement. With 22 lawyers involved in the class-action suit, that works out to be nearly $8 million a piece. Not too bad for 13 months' work--and there might be more moolah a-coming because...
4. Missouri is now suing Volkswagen: Like 16 other states, the Show-Me State wants its slice of das pie. If those states prevail in court, the fines they receive will be over and above the penalties Volkswagen has already agreed to pay to consumers and the federal government.
5. European Union turns up the heat: Say what you will about Americans and their litigious tendencies, but the U.S. has been more successful than other nations in forcing Volkswagen to take this matter seriously--even though most diesels affected by the Dieselgate scandal weren't sold here. Now, EU regulators want Volkswagen to do the same across the Pond. Specifically, they want Volkswagen to compensate owners of illegal diesels, and they want the automaker to guarantee that it will fix all cars that can be fixed within the coming year.
Note: for purposes of clarity, "Volkswagen" has been used to refer to the Volkswagen Group parent company, while "VW" has been used to refer to the company's mass-market brand of automobiles.