A federal judge has approved a $14.7 billion settlement in the Volkswagen emissions-cheating case, the largest auto-scandal settlement in U.S. history.

The deal, approved Tuesday, gives about 475,000 owners of Volkswagens and Audis with 2-liter diesel engines the opportunity to have their cars bought back or modified by Volkswagen and to seek additional cash compensation. It also provides billions of dollars to support environmental programs, reduce emissions and promote zero-emissions vehicles.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco, who has overseen the litigation against the German automaker, approved the settlement that was proposed in July. He called the deal “fair, reasonable and adequate.”

The VW scandal erupted a year ago when Volkswagen admitted that it had installed “cheat devices” on diesel-powered cars from 2009 through 2015. The devices enabled the vehicles’ engines to emit fewer pollutants during emissions tests than during normal road use.

The scandal involved nearly 600,000 cars in the United States and 11 million Volkswagen vehicles worldwide.

Volkswagen said Tuesday that it would start to implement the U.S. settlement immediately and that it was hiring 900 people to help with the buybacks, including one employee to be stationed at each of its 652 U.S. dealerships.

The automaker has a website, vwcourtsettlement.com, with details on the settlement and instructions for people who own or lease affected cars.

The settlement “is an important milestone in our journey to make things right in the United States,” Hinrich Woebcken, chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America Inc., said in a statement.

Owners of certain 2-liter diesel cars made by Volkswagen in the model years 2009 through 2015 will receive between $12,500 and $44,000 from the automaker to buy back their cars. Leases of those vehicles may be terminated without penalty, and leaseholders also may seek cash payments.

Instead of having their cars bought back, drivers can choose to have Volkswagen modify their vehicles to meet emissions standards. Federal officials said the modification does not yet exist, though the company is working on a fix.

Regardless of whether they choose the buyback or modification option, owners will also receive a payment of at least $5,100 and as much as $10,000, depending on the model.

The 475,000 cars affected by the deal include Volkswagen’s Beetles, Golfs, Jettas and Passats. Some Audi A3s are covered.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.