Rumours are building that Volkswagen North America will pay up to US$7000 in compensation to owners of cars affected by the on-going "Dieselgate” emissions scandal, as part of a whopping US$10.2 billion (AU$13.8 billion) settlement that’s expected to be submitted to a Federal judge early next week.
The cash will reportedly be split between the 482,000-odd owners of affected vehicles, with an unspecified amount set aside for fines and penalties resulting from the company wilfully dodging US emissions rules.
Some money will also be set aside to buy back vehicles in the event a customer doesn’t want to have a fix applied for free.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen Group Australia has moved to reassure owners of vehicles impacted by the Dieselgate scandal, saying they will be individually contacted when the company is ready to remove and replace the contentious engine management software that allowed cars to cheat emissions testing.
A total of 77,149 cars sold in Australia by Volkswagen and Skoda are equipped with the engine management software, with some Audi models also affected. The list covers models equipped with 1.6 and 2.0 litre versions of VW's EA189 turbo diesel engine, some sold as far back as 2008.
The company has already started rectifying customer vehicles, with the Amarok ute the first model to undergo the process (which involves a 30-minute software update at an authorised dealer, free of charge).
“This procedure does not have any material impact on vehicle performance, driving characteristics, fuel economy or compliance with emissions standards,” Volkswagen Group Australia Managing Director Michael Bartsch said in a statement issued today.
“This has been demonstrated in the vehicles for which the upgrade has already been implemented.
“The important thing customers need to know is that the affected vehicles are safe to drive now and will remain safe to drive after they are updated.”
Referring to the prospect of cash compensation for US customers and the on-going local class action mounted by affected Australian Volkswagen owners, Bartsch said it was “difficult to compare the Australian matters with the situations faced elsewhere in the world”.
“Emission regulations and vehicle standards vary from country to country,” he said.
“In Australia our focus is on ensuring the voluntary recall works as efficiently as possible for our customers as soon as the technical measures for each model are available. This process is well underway.”
“We believe that the best outcome for customers is the simple software solution.”