How the VW diesel settlement breaks down in dollars

On Tuesday, June 28, Volkswagen finally announced an agreement with US federal regulators (including the FTC), private plaintiffs in the United States, and 44 states to settle its TDI diesel case to the tune of about $15 billion.

In case you need a refresher, in fall of 2015, researchers discovered that VW had engineered the software governing its TDI diesel engines to behave differently when being tested for emissions than they do when being driven normally. When the car detected a testing situation—steering wheel straight, certain speeds or rpms held for certain times—the engine ran cleaner, which sacrificed performance but passed the test. When driven normally, the performance increased, and so did the tailpipe emissions.

Here’s how the numbers break down in the settlement:

  • 475,000 VW and Audi diesel vehicles will be bought back or have their leases terminated
  • If everyone eligible takes advantage of the settlement, that amounts to $10.33 billion, according to VW
  • VW will invest $2.7 billion in an “environmental remediation fund”
  • VW will invest $2 billion to promote the adoption of zero-emissions vehicles in the United States
  • VW will pay $603 million to 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to resolve consumer protection claims

This only affects vehicles with the 2.0-liter TDI engines. There’s more resolution to come—and more money to be paid out—for the 3.0-liter TDI-engined vehicles.

If you’re a TDI owner, you’ve got a couple of choices. You can take a buyback or lease termination plus cash, or you can have your car modified to meet emissions standards. In the first case, the value for the buyback will be based on the Clean Trade-In Value published in September 2015 of the NADA Used Car Guide. In the second case, you keep the car (though the performance will likely suffer, if that’s a factor for you), and you get some cash from VW. The modification option is waiting on approval from the EPA and CARB before it can be implemented in customers’ cars.

Since the software dodge affects cars from 2009 through 2015, it’s possible that you may have owned a TDI and already sold it on or traded it in. Don’t fret—you may still be able to get some cash. There aren’t details on the website yet, but it’s worth keeping an eye on that provision if it applies to you.

No matter which option you may be eligible for or want to take advantage of, the paperwork has to be filed and approved by the court over the summer. Action can be taken by TDI owners to get some money or some modifications in fall 2016.