— Volkswagen "clean diesel" owners are one step closer to finally receiving relief from buying so-called "environmentally friendly" vehicles that have been polluting the air for at least seven years.
Judge Charles Breyer already gave preliminary approval to the $15 billion settlement that will see about $10 billion go to U.S. car owners and about $5 billion to cover environmental damages. Now the judge says he is inclined to finalize the settlement terms by October 25, 2016, at least for the most part.
The settlement terms provide 475,000 affected 2-liter owners the choice of VW allegedly fixing the cars and paying compensation, or buying back the cars and paying compensation. The compensation will average between $5,100 to nearly $10,000, but currently the government hasn't approved a final fix for the cars.
An overwhelming number of owners have opted for the buyback, but about 20 owners did tell the judge the settlement should be rejected. One California couple says Volkswagen played them for fools by selling an Audi car that was supposed to be good for the environment.
The couple, like the other owners who complained about the settlement, say the payout amounts aren't enough for the years of lies VW laid on the public.
Out of 475,000 affected owners, more than 336,000 have registered for the settlement and about 3,200 have opted out. If an owner does nothing, they are considered as accepting the terms of the settlement.
There may still be a few questions about the settlement terms, especially concerning how attorneys based trade-in values on an average of 12,500 miles of yearly driving. At least one corporate customer says the deal isn't fair to them because they own 5,000 VW vehicles and all have very detailed mileage records.
But overall, attorneys for Volkswagen say the settlement terms are fair for consumers, and attorneys for owners say the same.
An agreement with dealerships for $1.2 billion also looks good to Breyer, who indicates he doesn't see a reason the terms won't be finalized October 25, 2016.
The news is good for 2-liter owners but owners of 3-liter Volkswagen vehicles must feel like castaways on an island waving their arms in the air for someone to find them.
About 85,000 of those vehicles aren't included in the settlement for 2-liter owners and have been left with nothing but questions about their illegal cars.
The subject hasn't been lost in court as the judge says VW needs to provide answers on November 3 when a hearing will be held for those vehicles. Judge Breyer says a resolution must be found to satisfy 3-liter owners and the claims of 3-liter VW owners are absolutely no less important than 2-liter owners.
Although the court wrangling continues, any owner who chooses to get their car fixed could see their plans down the drain if the Environmental Protection Agency doesn't approve of VW's future proposals for fixing the cars.
The judge doesn't believe there will be much of a problem because U.S. government agencies have so far said the deal should go forward and is good for consumers.
Missouri Sues Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen
The state of Missouri has joined a long line of states to sue Volkswagen for scamming consumers for years with "clean diesel" cars that are far from clean.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed the lawsuit in St. Louis against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche for violations of Missouri’s Air Conservation Law.
Missouri says Volkswagen needs to do more for Missouri consumers in addition to benefits the state will receive from VW's settlement agreement with the states.
The attorney general says Missouri is set to receive more than $40 million in restitution in the form of a consumer vehicle buybacks or repairs and up to $39 million to be used for environmental programs. Additionally, the state expects a payment of $8.7 million for violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.
“Volkswagen’s actions demonstrate a flagrant disregard for Missouri’s environmental laws, as well as the health and welfare of Missourians. We are fighting to hold Volkswagen accountable both to the consumers of the state who purchased Volkswagen vehicles, and all Missourians, who count on clean air to breathe.” - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster
The lawsuit will seek to nail Volkswagen with civil penalties to deter the automaker and all companies from breaking Missouri laws.