Technicians test a 2013 Volkswagen at the California Resources Board’s lab in El Monte in 2015. Volkswagen is paying billions to settle claims over tainted diesel vehicles in California and elsewhere. David McNew New York Times file
Technicians test a 2013 Volkswagen at the California Resources Board’s lab in El Monte in 2015. Volkswagen is paying billions to settle claims over tainted diesel vehicles in California and elsewhere. David McNew New York Times file

Business & Real Estate

VW to pay at least $1.25 billion to U.S. owners of pricier diesel vehicles

By Dale Kasler

dkasler@sacbee.com

February 01, 2017 07:01 AM

Volkswagen has finalized another major settlement with U.S. regulators over its diesel air-pollution scandal, agreeing to spend at least $1.25 billion to fix and buy back tainted 3.0-liter vehicles and compensate their owners.

The settlement, announced a month ago, has been approved by a federal judge in San Francisco and could cost Volkswagen as much as $4 billion, the Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday. The FTC said the deal will “fully compensate consumers.”

The latest settlement affects the 90,000 or so 3-liter engine vehicles sold in the United States since 2009, including 15,000 in California.

The FTC said owners of older cars, made between 2009 and 2012, will be able to sell the vehicles back to Volkswagen for an estimated $26,000 to $58,000 apiece. They’ll be able to keep their cars if a repair program is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board. California has its own certification program for cars’ air-pollution control systems; engineers at the air board were instrumental in uncovering the scandal.

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For cars made after 2012, the FTC said Volkswagen is expected to develop a “full compliance” repair subject to approval of the EPA and the California agency. Even if their cars are fixed, owners are eligible for cash compensation of between $8,500 and $17,600 each.

The FTC said the agreement will cost Volkswagen about $1.25 billion if the repair programs are approved. If the cars can’t be fixed, the deal will cost Volkswagen about $4 billion.

The payout is in addition to the more than $14 billion, including $10 billion in compensation to consumers, Volkswagen has agreed to pay in connection with the more popular 2-liter engine vehicles. About 470,000 of those vehicles were sold nationally, including 71,000 in California.

Volkswagen has admitted that it equipped its diesel vehicles with “defeat device” software that switched off the emissions-control systems when the cars were on the road. As a result, the cars emitted smog-creating nitrogen oxide fumes at up to 40 times the legal limit.

Consumers can check on their eligibility at www.vwcourtsettlement.com.

Dale Kasler: 916-321-1066, @dakasler