Judge Approves $14.7 Billion Settlement in VW Diesel Scandal

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A federal judge Tuesday gave final approval to Volkswagen’s $14.7 billion settlement of their emissions-cheating scandal, clearing the way in which for buyback payments to begin soon to almost half a million diesel-car owners who were driving vehicles that don’t conform to?U.S. pollution laws.

The written ruling also allows VW owners the option of keeping their cars and having them modified by the carmaker to meet air quality standards.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, who had heard objections to the proposed settlement within an Oct. 18 hearing,?said Tuesday that the agreement “adequately and fairly compensates” owners, according to a duplicate of the final ruling. “Given the risks of prolonged litigation, the immediate settlement of the matter is far preferable,” Breyer wrote.

The final settlement in a San Francisco court brings to a finish a year of awaiting as much as 475,000 those who own the 2.0-liter diesel models that were found to be rigged to pass through?government lab tests. In the ruling, Breyer also approved VW’s $1.2 billion settlement with about 650 U.S. dealerships.

The Epa and other state and federal agencies sued VW, which has acknowledged fitting VW and Audi diesel vehicles from the 2009-15 model years with defeat-device software to pass through smog tests. People who bought or leased the sporty cars – billed as ?”clean diesel” vehicles – were offered a brief deal, susceptible to public comment, after the scandal broke in September 2015.

The final settlement offers restitution amounts of $5,100 to $9,852 plus the worth of the automobile according to various factors such as the year, make, model and current mileage from the vehicle. For owners taking the buyback, the combined total could range anywhere from $12,475 to $44,175.

Under the settlement, Volkswagen (and “related entities”) will expend up to $10.03 billion to compensate those who own the affected vehicles and $4.7 billion to mitigate pollution from the cars and purchase green auto?technology.

About 340,000 owners of affected cars have registered to get familiar with the settlement, according to Reuters, and now need to decide how to help make the the majority of the agreement. About 3,500 owners have elected to opt out.

“Given the high claim rate and the low opt-out and objection rates, this factor strongly favors final approval,” Breyer wrote in the ruling.

September 2018 is the deadline for VW proprietors to accept the buyback offer or wait for the to-be-announced emissions system fix. Meanwhile, along with its tarnished reputation, VW may have further troubles: Emissions of other diesel engines it makes are still being investigated.

Philip Reed is a staff writer at NerdWallet, an individual finance website. Email: [email protected]