Volkswagen’s $15B Diesel Settlement Has Initial Approval

Owners of 2.0-liter diesel cars can start looking forward to their payday.

VW Settlement
Arno Burgi/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

The Dieselgate scandal has taken another step towards its ultimate resolution. A federal court has approved a civil settlement between Volkswagen and American plaintiffs in regards to the lawsuit brought against the German carmaker over vehicles powered by its 2.0-liter diesel engine.

The roughly $15 billion settlement, which was granted preliminary approval by Judge Charles Breyer of California, was announced today by both VW and the plaintiff's committee. Roughly 475,000 cars are affected by the agreement. Final approval is expected on October 18.

The settlement applies to owners of diesel-powered 2013–2015 VW Beetles, 2010-2015 VW Golfs, 2009-2015 VW Jettas, 2012-2015 VW Passats, and 2010-2013 and 2015 Audi A3s, all of which produce can produce nitrogen oxide levels far above the allowable limits for U.S. passenger vehicles. Cars and trucks powered by the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6, such as the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne, are not affected by the agreement.

Under the settlement, eligible owners of these cars will be provided with two choices. They can sell their vehicles back to VW, or end their leases early; owners will be given the value of their cars as of September 2015, before the Dieselgate scandal. Alternately, owners can elect to have the vehicles repaired, assuming Volkswagen is able to develop a fix for the diesels that passes muster with the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board. Either way, customers will also receive a cash payment from Volkswagen; those payments will generally range from $5,100 to $10,000.

All payments to plaintiffs will be made out of a $10.033 billion pool created by VW to handle the suit. In addition, Volkswagen will provide the EPA and CARB with $2.7 billion to help clean up the environment, as well as another $2 billion for electric vehicle programs.

"We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from affected owners and lessees in response to this historic agreement, and believe this support will only grow as consumers learn more about the benefits of the settlement," Elizabeth Cabraser, lead council for the plaintiffs, said in a statement. "We look forward to finalizing this agreement so consumers can soon take advantage of its benefits."

Owners of diesel-powered cars can see if they are eligible for the civil settlement by going to VWCourtSettlement.com and entering their vehicle's information there.