VW to pay $15bn in US emissions scandal

Troubles for the German automaker have not yet ended as it still faces similar legal battles in other countries.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Raindrops are seen on the badge of a diesel Volkswagen Passat in central London.

Volkswagen (VW) will pay over $15 billion to its customers and the regulators in the US as compensation for cheating them into believing that their cars weren't bad for the environment.

The settlement includes around $10 billion to offer buybacks to owners of about 475,000  vehicles and nearly $5 billion in funds to offset excess diesel emissions and boost investment in zero emission vehicles.

US authorities will announce the settlement details later on Tuesday, accroding to Reuters. 

The German automaker admitted in September 2015 that it intentionally misled regulators by installing secret software that allowed US vehicles to emit up to 40 times legally allowable pollution.

The scandal surfaced after researches from West Virginia University found that VW cars discharged more pollutants on the road than during the laboratory tests.

That was because of the sophisticated software, which senses when a car is being tested and kicks in system to lower emissions.

It involves cars sold under various VW brands between 2009 and 2015.

VW had said the scandal impacted 11 million vehicles worldwide and led to the departure of CEO Martin Winterkorn.

The settlement deal is the most expensive auto industry scandal.

It moves VW close to the $18 billion it has set aside to cover the costs of the scandal.

VW faces the bulk of expenses for its wrongdoing in the US but criminal and civil legal action is still pending in other countries.

European governments are also demanding VW offer similar compensation to the owners of 8.5 million rigged cars in the region, adding to risks that the costs could climb.

Owners of 2.0 liter diesel VW 2009-2015 cars would receive at least $5,100 compensation along with the estimated value of the vehicles as of September 2015, before the scandal erupted.

Some owners will get as much as $10,000 in compensation depending on the value of the car.

Prior owners will get half of current owners, while people who leased cars will also get compensation.

Owners would also receive the same compensation if they choose to have the vehicles repaired, assuming US regulators approve a fix at a later date.

The settlement includes $2.7 billion in funds to offset excess diesel emissions and $2 billion in VW investments in green energy and zero emission vehicles.

VW still must reach agreement with regulators on whether it will offer to buy back 85,000 larger 3.0 liter Porsche, Audi and VW cars and SUVs that emitted up to nine times legally allowable pollution.

Owners will have until December 2018 to decide whether to sell back vehicles and fixes may not eliminate all excess emissions.

VW cannot resell or export the vehicles bought back unless the EPA approves a fix, Reuters reported last week.

VW, the world's second largest automaker, has seen its sales in US suffer in the wake of the crisis.

VW brand sales are down 13 percent in the United States in 2016, while sales of its luxury Audi and Porsche units have risen.

TRTWorld, Reuters