The embattled carmaker has reached an 'agreement in principle' to compensate its 650 US dealers which sued Volkswagen for damages in connection with its emissions-cheating scandal.
The automaker and a lawyer for Volkswagen (VW) brand dealers announced a tentative settlement at a court hearing in San Francisco on Thursday.
The settlement included about $1.2 billion (1.06 billion euros) in payments for the reduction in value of VW dealerships, and additional payments for vehicles that could not be sold, sources briefed on the settlement told the news agency Reuters. VW has also agreed to continue to make certain incentive payments to dealers, the sources said.
"We believe this agreement in principle with Volkswagen dealers is a very important step in our commitment to making things right for all our stakeholders in the United States," said Hinrich J. Woebcken, chief executive of VW's North American Region. "Our dealers are our partners and we value their ongoing loyalty and passion for the Volkswagen brand."
Even though not all the details of how the settlement fund would be divided among the dealers, the two sides were planning to file details of the agreement by the end of September, they told US district judge Charles Breyer.
Ever since the carmaker's emissions-cheating scandal broke in September last year, VW's US dealers have been barred from selling polluting diesel vehicles. At the time, VW admitted that more than 600,000 of its diesel cars sold in the US were equipped with defeat devices deactivating pollution controls. A little later, the company said it had installed about 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide with the improper software.
New deadline for 3-liter diesels
The German automaker has been taking a number of steps to resolve outstanding issues related to the emissions scandal. In June, it agreed to pay more than $15 billion to buy back up to 475,000 vehicles in the US, and address claims by federal regulators and 44 US states.
Last week, the US Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said they were in talks with VW to reach a deal on fines as part of a separate settlement that could lead to an outside monitor overseeing VW's compliance with American laws.
On Thursday, judge Breyer also increased the pressure on VW to find a solution to its 3-liter diesel vehicles, which were not included in the agreement in June.
Since those bigger VW cars were currently driving on US streets without official certification, Breyer said, the carmaker was requested to present a plan to fix their illegal emissions by October 24.
Volkswagen has sold about 85,000 3.0-liter cars, mainly of its brands Audi, Porsche, and VW SUV in the US since 2009. VW lawyer Robert Giuffra said Thursday that management was "still convinced they would be able to repair those cars," which was more complicated, however, than the emissions fix found for the 2-liter engines.
Judge Breyer has ordered another hearing in the case for November 3.
uhe/kd (Reuters, dpa)