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Over 200,000 Register For VW Class-Action Suit Buyback Plan That Calls for 3 Actions

More than 200,000 VW owners have opted for the Dieselgate buyback program, surprising some legal authorities with the speed with which it happened, about a month or a little more.

Although it is the more expensive option, Volkswagen may be happy that more than 200,000 consumers affected by the Dieselgate scandal are opting for the cash buyback and not a fix. The reason is that the automaker may avoid further penalties as each vehicle the carmaker buys back is one more off the road. VW must get 85 percent of the emissions-cheating cars off the road to prevent more penalties.

The settlement VW worked out with consumers and regulators to settle the class-action suit calls for:

  • A cash buyback of affected vehicles
  • Or, $5,100
  • Or, a free fix, if one should be approved and become available

44 Percent Opt In, So Far

Nearly 44 percent of the 482,000 U.S. drivers affected by the emissions-cheating settlement are going for the gold and not the fix, said the lead attorney in the class-action suit. Elizabeth Crabaser indicated the numbers could change if a fix were to become available. Indeed, the automaker has reason to be concerned if a fix is approved because the numbers could change radically.

A Canadian VW diesel owner recently told Torque News that he was quite happy with his Jetta TDI. Indeed, if a fix were available, he would opt for it to keep his diesel on the road. He is satisfied with the performance of his VW that he plans to trade for another because he expects there will be “good deals available.” His comments are representative of the views of many owners of the vehicles involved in the Dieselgate buyback program.

At the moment, Volkswagen is in the clear as its fixes have been rejected by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There is still no fix available for the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder diesel engine, although there has been some indication that there could be a fix for 85,000 3.0-liter V-6 diesel powerplants that have been used in luxury VW, Porsche and Audi vehicles by October. (In Europe, the automaker has received permission to begin fixing up to 8.5 million of the 11 million 2.0-liter-engine-equipped vehicles caught up in Dieselgate.)

Interestingly, the speed with which 210,000 consumers have registered for the buyback has surprised legal experts. Deborah Hensler, who teaches law at Stanford, with an emphasis on multi-district and international class-action suits, seemed surprised when she told an interviewer: “Wow. This is a huge number in a relatively short period of time (a bit over a month). But, on the other hand, it would be shocking if a huge fraction of class members were to opt out when it has not been made inordinately difficult for class members to register.”

Volkswagen has set aside about $10 billion to buy back vehicles equipped with 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engines, the majority of powerplants involved in the VW-inspired scam where cheatware (software used to cheat) was installed in millions of vehicles to make it appear as if those vehicles met the U.S. standard for NOx emissions, even as they were still pumping out pollutants.

800,000 Notices Sent Out

Lawyers have sent out far more than the number of notices needed to ensure peak participation in the settlement program. Owners and lessees have another year to opt for the buyback.
Volkswagen had no comment.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer, who has been overseeing the class-action suit in San Francisco, has set Oct. 18 as the date for final approval of the deal.