Volkswagen and the United States government have reached a preliminary agreement to address 600,000 emissions test-cheating diesel vehicles on the road in the US. The plan, which received an “agreement in principle” from District Judge Charles Breyer in a lawsuit filed by the US Department of Justice, includes two options for consumers:
- A buyback of up to 500,000 affected vehicles, or
- A fix for the vehicles to meet emissions standards.
While still under construction, the announcement alleviates looming consumer and government fears that VW would be unable to meet its second deadline for a plan to fix its offending TDI line of cars.
Judge Breyer expressed his interest in seeing affected consumers compensated substantially. In addition, consumers would be allowed to end their leases on affected vehicles.
This is only a preliminary plan and the details about the vehicles’ buyback values or the fix itself haven’t been finalized yet. The exact details of the agreement will likely remain confidential until sometime in the summer. In the meantime, VW says, “customers in the United States do not need to take any action at this time.”
Not off the hook from other suits
The plan unveiled today does not address other lawsuits, including one filed by the US Federal Trade Commission based on VW’s false advertising campaign, a lawsuit filed by the US Environmental Protection Agency which had originally accused VW of cheating its emissions tests, and consumer lawsuits.
An attorney suing VW on behalf of a Florida environmental protection commission revealed that today’s plan “does not include damages that may be levied against VW by the many state and local governments that have sued the automaker.”
Any technical fix on offer?
The announcement of VW’s preliminary plan doesn’t offer any details about the fix it’s supposedly going to offer to consumers. Given the time constraints the court had placed upon VW and the technical complexity of the issue, VW’s CEO Matthias Mueller and California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Enforcement Division Chief Todd Sax had voiced their concerns about the feasibility of a concrete plan for a fix.
In Germany, a regulatory agency had recently approved of proposed modifications to the VW Amarok diesel pickup truck line. The modifications were compliant with the emissions test protocols of the New European Driving Cycle, but the Swedish Transport Agency found that the Amarok continued to emit the same levels of nitrogen oxides as before.
This may mean bad news for its American efforts as the EPA’s emissions standards are some of the strictest in the world’s automotive industry.
If the proposed fix from this new plan doesn’t meet the EPA’s emissions standards, US consumers who opt out of the buyback could face more time waiting before another option becomes available. This potential failure could put the vehicles’ values at further risk and may block owners from registering their vehicles.
Details about VW’s preliminary plan won’t be publicly available until later and there’s no word on the type of compensation affected consumers might receive. If you own a VW TDI vehicle affected by the diesel scandal, seek legal counsel with an attorney to learn about your legal rights. An attorney can help you secure the compensation you deserve.