A mammoth $14.7 billion settlement has just been announced in the Volkswagon emissions cheating case.
This is the biggest ever settlement in the history of the US for a scandal involving the automotive industry.
For many owners of Volkswagen and Audi vehicles which have two litre engines, this means they now have the chance to have the company either buy back their cars or modify them so they meet emissions standards.
They are also likely to look at getting compensation from Volkswagen.
Because of damage which could have been done to the environment as a result of additional emissions, the settlement will also send billions of dollars to environmental initiatives designed to reduce emissions and to promote the development and use of zero-emissions vehicles.
US District Judge Charles Breyer from San Francisco has overseen the law suit against the German automotive company. He said the deal was “fair, reasonable and adequate”.
The scandal first came to the public eye around a year ago when Volkswagen said it had put in devices which cheated emissions rules on its diesel-powered cars in the years from 2009 to 2015.
This meant its vehicles looked as if they were giving out less pollution during emissions tests than during their usual use on the roads.
The cheating issue has involved an estimated total of 600,000 cars across America, including an estimated 71,000 in California alone. It has also affected 11 million VW vehicles across the globe.
The firm said it will begin to action the settlement which has been imposed immediately.
It is hiring 900 extra members of staff to help it deal with an expected influx of queries about the logistics of buybacks, including one dedicated employee for each of its 652 dealerships across the US. The firm has set up a dedicated website to provide instructions for customers who own or lease cars affected in the settlement.
The settlement has been described by Hinrich Woebcken, who is chief executive of the VW Group of America Inc as “an important milestone in our journey to make things right in the United States.”
Owners of the models which have been affected should receive somewhere between $12,500 and $44,000 from the car manufacturer to buy back those cars.
Those who have a lease can terminate the agreement without fear of any penalty, and they may also look at seeking compensation.