Volkswagen AG has made substantial progress toward reaching a settlement for the remaining 80,000 diesel-cheating cars polluting U.S. roads, a federal judge said.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, who last week gave final approval to the carmaker’s settlement covering 480,000 Volkswagens with 2.0-liter engines, is pressing for a solution for vehicles with 3.0-liter engines. Those models include the 2014 Volkswagen Toureg, 2015 Porsche Cayenne and 2016 Audi Q5.
On Thursday Breyer initially told lawyers for VW, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Trade Commission and California Air Resource Board to report back to him on Dec. 1 on efforts to fix or buy back those cars. After court, he moved up that court conference to Nov. 30.
Almost a year after the cheating was made public, VW still doesn’t have a fix for any of the 560,000 cars still polluting U.S. roads. Unlike drivers of the 2-liter vehicles who were permitted to seek a settlement before VW produced a remedy, their 3-liter counterparts have yet to receive that mandate, increasing the chances of the case consolidated in San Francisco going to trial.
The $14.7 billion agreement with car owners and the government calls for buying back or fixing 2-liter models. Volkswagen is also on the hook for $603 million that the company agreed to pay 44 states, and it faces more state government claims and investor class actions in the U.S. and lawsuits in Germany, as well as possible criminal penalties in both countries and South Korea. VW has set aside 18.2 billion euros ($20.2 billion) to cover the cost of repairs, fines and legal fees.
Since the EPA has yet to approve VW’s proposed remedies for the cars, it could be years before any of the vehicles are taken off U.S. roads, a possibility that may increase fines and penalties against VW.
Breyer asked consumers to be patient given the number of cars involved in the settlement, saying he understood the “emotional strain and frustration” in not being able to deal with something so important to their daily lives.
“This is for many many people not only their major asset but also their principal necessity,” Breyer said.
So far, 25 percent of the 2-liter owners have registered to participate in the settlement. Eighty-five percent of those cars must be removed from U.S. roads or VW will face additional penalties.
VW’s widely traded preferred shares fell 0.9 percent Thursday to 119.20 euros in Frankfurt. The shares have fallen 6.2 percent since both sides told Breyer of their agreement on April 21.
The case is In Re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, 15-02672, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).