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Volkswagen Agrees to Pay $14.7B Following Emissions Scandal

Grant Whittington headshotWords by Grant Whittington
Leadership & Transparency
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On Tuesday, Volkswagen reached a record settlement to pay up to $14.7 billion as a result of its "dieselgate" emissions scandal. Owners of cars with installed “defeat devices” are the big winners of the settlement with Volkswagen pledging to repair or buy back the diesel-guzzling vehicles pending a court approval.

Owners of Volkswagen or Audi 2.0-liter diesel vehicles from model years 2009 to 2015 could be eligible for big-time compensation. If the car is deemed eligible, owners will receive at least $5,100 in cash payment and at most $10,000. Those who wish to sell their car back to the automaker could receive somewhere between $12,500 and $44,000 depending on the car’s make. Volkswagen also offered to repair the faulty, environmentally-unsafe cars. Of course, that's only if the automaker can manage a way to do so that meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards.

On top of the $10 billion set aside for paying owners back, Volkswagen agreed to pay $2.7 billion for environmental cleanup and another $2 billion to research the promotion of zero-emissions vehicles in the United States. The $2.7 billion will be given to the states to minimize diesel emissions by replacing old diesel-burning machines like trucks and buses, CNNMoney reported on Tuesday. 

The automaker intentionally installed software that restricted emissions when the cars were being tested. But after passing the tests, the vehicles dumped up to 40 times the EPA-approved levels of pollutants when driving on roads. Volkswagen came clean of the claim in September.

Volkswagen is required to replace or repair 85 percent of affected cars by Dec. 1, 2018. If not, the company will be slapped with potentially hundreds of millions of dollars more in federal fines, the Washington Post reported.

The German automaker has easily surpassed the previously largest vehicle settlement in history — Toyota paid $1.2 billion in 2012 after 93 deaths related to unsafe acceleration in vehicles. But Volkswagen may not get off the hook so easy. The Department of Justice is investigating potential criminal charges against the company.

“Volkswagen’s proposed settlement is unprecedented in its dollar amount,” AutoTrader analyst Michelle Krebs told CNNMoney. "But the situation was unprecedented, in that it was not a mistake but a deliberate deception.”

In April, seven months after the scandal caught fire, Volkswagen set aside $18 billion to cover the global phenomenon, Forbes reported. The company ducked and dodged the EPA’s testing routine for seven years, but is now certainly paying the price.

The owners of the some 475,000 vehicles swept up in the scandal saw their car’s value plummet following the exposure of the cheated emissions tests. The AP reported that the average VW diesel dropped 19 percent — from an average $13,196 in August 2015 to $10,674 in May 2016, according to Kelly Blue Book.

These 2009-2015 2.0-liter diesel vehicles by Volkswagen or Audi may be eligible for repair or replacement: (via the LA Times)


  • VW Beetle (2013-2015)

  • VW Golf (2010-2015)

  • VW Jetta (2009-2015)

  • VW Passat (2012-2015)

  • Audi A3 (2010-2013, 2015)
Photo by m01229/Flickr

Grant Whittington headshotGrant Whittington

Based in Washington, DC, Grant works as a program assistant at SEEP Network, an international development nonprofit. A proud graduate of the University of Maryland, Grant spent four months post-grad living in Armenia where he worked for Habitat for Humanity and the World Food Programme. Grant is passionate about humanitarianism and finding sustainable approaches to international development. He enjoys playing trivia with friends but is still seeking his first victory - he ceaselessly blames his friends lack of preparation.

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