Judge OKs VW deal to spend $1.2B more on diesel fix

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — A federal judge has approved a settlement that calls for Volkswagen AG to spend $1.2 billion to fix or buy back about 78,000 additional diesel vehicles that were rigged to cheat U.S. emission standards and contribute to federal trust funds designed to boost environmental protections.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer granted preliminary approval to the deal, which covers 3-liter diesel cars not included in an earlier $14.7 billion settlement between Volkswagen and U.S. regulators that included about 475,000 2-liter diesel vehicles. In a San Francisco court hearing Tuesday, Breyer said he will issue a final ruling on the agreement May 11.

Under the agreement, Volkswagen will fix 58,000 2013-16 Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche 3.0L TDI V6 vehicles and buy back another 20,000 2009-2012 Volkswagen and Audi 3.0L TDI V6 vehicles.

The agreement also calls for Volkswagen to put another $225 million into a federal environmental mitigation trust fund, in addition to the $2.7 billion the German automaker was required to pay into the fund under the previous 2-liter deal. VW has also agreed to a separate settlement with California that requires it to pay $25 million to the California Air Resources Board to support efforts to boost the use of zero-emissions vehicles by July 1.

Volkswagen said, in a written statement, that Breyer’s approval “marks another important milestone in Volkswagen’s efforts to make things right.

“The proposed 3.0L TDI settlement will build on the substantial progress we are making with our 2.0L TDI settlement program, and provides a fair resolution for remaining affected customers in the United States,” the company said.

Elizabeth Cabraser, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the Volkswagen litigation, said, “We have heard from many owners and lessees who are eager to take advantage of the settlement, and we look forward to finalizing this agreement so these benefits can quickly begin reaching both consumers and the environment.”

The new agreement covers:

■ 2009-12 VW Touaregs

■ 2009-2012 Audi Q7s

■ 2013-2016 VW Touaregs

■ 2013-2015 Audi Q7s

■ 2014-2016 Audi A6, A7, A8, A8L, Q5s

■ 2013-2016 Porsche Cayenne Diesels

Volkswagen has been under fire with U.S. regulators since the company 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 U.S. government has indicted six present and former Volkswagen executives and charged the company with three criminal felony counts for what regulators called a 10-year conspiracy to rig hundreds of thousands of diesel cars to cheat U.S. emission standards. Volkswagen is also being forced to pay $2.8 billion in criminal fines and $1.5 billion in civil penalties related to the fraud.


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Twitter: @Keith_Laing