CARS.COM — At least 210,000 owners of nearly half a million four-cylinder diesel cars affected by the Volkswagen Group’s diesel-emissions scandal have signed up to participate in a massive settlement, according to a court motion submitted by plaintiffs’ groups. And Bloomberg News reports the German automaker’s proposed buyback option has received the most interest.
Elizabeth Cabraser, a court-appointed lead counsel for the Volkswagen consumer plaintiffs in the class action, told Bloomberg that most of the owners and lessees who have signed up for the program want the buyback. Cars.com contacted Cabraser’s office but did not receive an immediate answer.
Volkswagen’s settlement website, VWcourtsettlement.com, has received more than 1.5 million visits as of Aug. 24, with about 210,000 owners registering for settlement benefits, according to an Aug. 26 court motion obtained by Cars.com. Jeannine Ginivan, a VW spokeswoman, confirmed the figures as of Aug. 27 and noted that “it can be assumed that the numbers are a bit higher” now.
Around 235 owners have opted out of the settlement, the motion said.
Notices of the settlement were sent to owners by mid-August, Cabraser told the U.S. district court overseeing the case on Aug. 25. The involved cars span the 2009 to 2015 model years:
- 2009-2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
- 2009-2014 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI
- 2012-2015 Volkswagen Beetle TDI
- 2012-2015 Volkswagen Passat TDI
- 2010-2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI
- 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI
- 2010-2013, 2015 Audi A3 TDI (Audi is Volkswagen Group brand)
The court filing notes that Volkswagen has faced more than 500 civil lawsuits in the U.S. alone. The settlement could cost the automaker some $15 billion, making it the largest automotive litigation settlement in U.S. history — and that’s before potential civil penalties or criminal liabilities, which could add substantially more. Two-thirds of the money goes to a buyback program that will pay owners the market value of their cars before the scandal broke in September 2015, plus additional cash restitutions. For those who bought their cars before the scandal arose, those restitutions are equal to roughly 20 percent of the car’s value plus about $3,000, for a total of $5,100 to nearly $10,000.
Plans to address the 80,000 diesel V-6 cars separately involved in the scandal have yet to be proposed. The court has set a Nov. 3 deadline for Volkswagen and other parties to announce progress and a possible fix.