DALLAS (CBS) It’s the day hundreds of thousands of Volkswagen owners in the U.S. have been waiting for.
The automaker has agreed to pay out billions over its emissions-rigging scandal.
Cheating on emission tests is going to cost Volkswagen more than $14 billion. Lawyers claim it’s the largest settlement of its kind in U.S. history.
“It marks a significant first step toward holding Volkswagen accountable,” said Sally Yates, the deputy attorney general.
Last year, the automaker admitted installing a defeat device in 11 million Volkswagen and Audi diesel vehicles worldwide.
The software senses when a vehicle is undergoing emissions tests and reduces the pollutants being released, but when driven the EPA found levels up to 40 times above acceptable standards.
Volkswagen owners like Steve Abernathy were shocked.
“The value of the car lost $8,000 dollars overnight,” Abernathy said.
If a judge approves the settlement, VW will pay $10 billion to buy back, cancel leases or fix nearly a half million vehicles in the U.S. People who take the buyout will be paid their car’s value before the scandal started plus $5,000-$10,000 in cash.
Volkswagen will also have to pay nearly $5 billion for environmental fines and towards emissions research.
This does not resolve the issue for VW. The company still faces billions more in fines and penalties.
“Our criminal investigation is active and ongoing,” said Yates.
Government leaders say it is expected to take years to get all the affected cars off the road.
There is currently no fix in place for Volkswagen owners.
The settlement does not cover pending claims for people who own 3 liter diesel Volkswagen vehicles that are equipped with the emissions software.