Judge: ‘Substantial progress’ on VW 3-liter deal

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — A federal judge is delaying a Friday deadline that called for Volkswagen to reach 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.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said during a court hearing in San Francisco on Friday afternoon, which was delayed for four hours to give negotiators time to work out a deal, that he is hopeful that a deal between regulators and the beleaguered German automaker can be reached over the weekend.

“I’m pleased to report that there has been substantial progress and I’m optimistic that there will be resolution of these matters and I am now continuing it to Monday at 8 a.m. (Pacific time) to receive a report from the parties as to whether or not they’ve been able to achieve a resolution,” Breyer said.

Volkswagen had originally be expected to present a deal to Breyer by Nov. 30. The deadline was moved to Friday after negotiators initially appeared close to reaching a deal.

Reuters has reported that an agreement is close that 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. The report from the news agency cited two sources who are familiar with the talks between VW and federal regulators.

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 earlier 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.

Some drivers have been unhappy with the buyback offers for 2.0-liter vehicles that have received from VW.

“I have paid $340 a month for $26 months ($8,160). VW is offering me a low ball $3,041.50,” Robert Jackson of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who is leasing a 2015 TDI Jetta, said in an email.

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.


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Twitter: @Keith_Laing