Report: VW to fix or buy back 80K polluting 3.0 liters

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Volkswagen has reached an agreement with federal regulators to fix or buy back about 80,000 3.0-liter diesel vehicles that were rigged to cheat U.S. emission standards as part of its effort to settle lawsuits and federal investigations, according to a report from Reuters.

The agreement calls for Volkswagen to buy back about 20,000 Audi and VW SUVs and provide a software fix for about 60,000 newer models that were marketed under its Porsche, Audi and VW brands, according to the report, which cited two sources who are familiar with the talks between VW and federal regulators.

A spokeswoman for Volkswagen declined to confirm the specifics of the reported agreement, but the company said it would meet a Nov. 30 deadline that was set by a U.S. District Court judge in San Francisco to address the emission cheating with the 3-liter vehicles.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Detroit News.

The reported agreement follows an earlier settlement that calls for Volkswagen to spend about $10 billion to fix or buy back about 475,000 polluting 2.0-liter vehicles as a part of a $14.7 billion deal between regulators and the beleaguered German automakers. Under that agreement, Volkswagen will compensate owners who purchased 2.0-liter diesels before September 2015 with payments of $5,100 to $10,000, depending on the age of the car.

Rebecca Lindland, senior analyst for Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book said the reported agreement is good news for VW.

“VW needs to get this diesel issue behind them ASAP, so they can continue the rebuilding and recovery process,” she said. “Addressing concerns of current owners and prospective owners with a go-forward plan is also critical. Working with [the California Air Resources Board] to accomplish these goals is a huge step in the right direction.”

Volkswagen has admitted to programming its diesel cars to trick emissions testers into believing the engines released far less pollution into the air than they actually do, in violation of the federal Clean Air Act. Regulators have said that in normal driving they emitted up to 40 times more smog-causing nitrogen oxide than the legal limit.

The beleaguered German automaker was accused by the EPA in September 2015 of selling diesels for years with software that activated required air pollution equipment only during emissions tests. They had been marketed as “clean diesels” for the company’s Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche brands between 2008 and 2015.

Elizabeth Cabraser, court-appointed lead counsel for the plaintiffs’ steering committee, said Volkswagen’s proposed deal with federal regulators about the polluting 3.0-liter cars does not go as far to address damages that were done to consumers as its massive 2.0 settlement did.

“No settlement agreement has been reached on behalf of owners and lessees of Volkswagen 3.0-liter TDI vehicles,” she said in a statement. “Any resolution must grant these consumers similar benefits — including a choice between a buyback or a fix if approved by regulators — as were offered to class members in the 2.0-liter vehicle litigation.

“While an agreement between the EPA and Volkswagen may address some of the environmental damage, it does not hold the company accountable for the harm caused to consumers,” Cabraser continued. “We will continue to pursue a fair resolution on their behalf.”

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