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New US deal for VW diesels

November 15, 2016

Embattled German carmaker Volkswagen is said to have reached an agreement with US regulators for a mix of buybacks and fixes for 80,000 polluting three-liter vehicles, including Porsche and Audi cars.

Neckarsulm Audi A8 Produktion
Image: Getty Images/AFP/T. Kienzle

According to sources familiar with the settlement, the agreement would include a buyback offer for about 20,000 older Audi and VW sports utility vehicles (SUVs), and a software fix for 60,000 newer Porsche, Audi and VW cars and SUVs.

The news agency Reuters on Wednesday cited those sources as saying that a separate, more complex fix was expected to be offered for the older vehicles in addition to the buyback program. Ahead of a Nov. 30 court hearing, talks were still ongoing between lawyers for the owners and Volkswagen over compensation, Reuters said.

Volkswagen, which has already agreed to spend up to $16.5 billion (15.3 billion euros) to resolve US diesel emissions cheating allegations, and the US Environmental Protection Agency declined to comment Wednesday. 

Audi spokesman Mark Clothier said the company was working hard to make things right. "As noted in court we are making substantial progress in our efforts to reach an approved resolution," he added, but declined to discuss the status of the vehicles. 

Elizabeth Cabraser, the lead attorney for the owners, said in a statement that any agreement between owners and the company should offer all 3.0-liter owners a choice between a buyback or a fix if approved by regulators.

While an agreement between the EPA and Volkswagen may address some of the environmental damage, it does not hold the company accountable for the harm caused to consumers. We will continue to pursue a fair resolution on their behalf," she said. 

Details of a final settlement are still being worked out but Volkswagen is expected to save potentially billions by avoiding a buyback of all 3.0-liter vehicles.

VW previously agreed to spend up to $10.3 billion to buy back as many as 475,000 polluting 2.0-diesel vehicles. Court documents show that at least 60 percent of those owners have already signaled they plan to sell the vehicles back. That includes compensation of $5,100 to $10,000 per vehicle.

Volkswagen wants to offer significantly less compensation to 3.0-liter car owners, the sources said.

The 2.0-liter diesel vehicles have software that allowed them to evade emissions rules in testing and emit up to 40 times legally allowable emissions in onroad driving. The 3.0-liter vehicles have an undeclared auxiliary emissions system that allowed the vehicles to emit up to nine times allowable limits. 

Audi has also come under scrutiny over whether some gasoline vehicles have separate software that lowered carbon dioxide emissions by detecting whether a car's steering wheel was turned as it would be when driving on a road.

VW has been barred from selling diesel vehicles in the United States since 2015 and has said it has not decided whether it will resume diesel sales in that country.

VW tries to clean up its act

uhe/jd (Reuters, dpa)