Owners and lessees of affected Volkswagen diesel cars are reportedly choosing buybacks over fix-its.
To date, according to Automotive News, almost half of 475,000 owners and lessees of Volkswagen AG diesel cars sold in the U.S. have registered to participate in the preliminary court settlement following VW’s diesel emission cheating scandal.
And of these 210,000 owners and lessees in the program, most want the buyback, said lead plaintiff’s attorney Elizabeth Cabraser.
Vehicle owners can choose a buyback, or a visit to a VW dealer for a fix-it repair job on their car. They can choose to receive a buyback price plus at least $5,100. Total compensation for owners and lessees who choose the buyback will range from a low of about $12,500 to a high of about $44,000, U.S. officials said to Automotive News after the preliminary settlement was announced in late June.
The federal court later will be ruling on whether fix-it repairs will resolve the problem and can be approved. While the automaker doesn’t have a government-approved modification for any of the cars, drivers may have a change of heart if a fix becomes available, Cabraser said.
“Wow. This is a huge number in a relatively short period of time,” said Deborah Hensler, a law professor at Stanford University who teaches classes on class-action disputes. “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.”
Buybacks will be more expensive for VW, but it will move the German automaker toward fulfilling its obligation to remove “dirty diesel” cars from U.S. roads. Owners choosing the fix won’t be charged for the dealer service appointment and can receive a payout in the $5,100 to $10,000 range.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer will issue a ruling on the motion for final approval on Oct. 18.
The total settlement includes about $10 billion for drivers of VW diesel models with 2-liter engines. Owners and lessees have until September 2018 to opt for the buyback.