Enlarge / Volkswagen AG Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) vehicles sit parked in a storage lot at San Bernardino International Airport (SBD) at dusk in San Bernardino, California, on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Volkswagen agreed last year to buy back about 500,000 diesels that it rigged to pass US emissions tests if it can’t figure out…
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If you own a diesel Volkswagen or Audi that was affected by the company’s 2015 diesel scandal, and if you haven’t submitted the proper paperwork to receive compensation, you only have one month left to do so.
Two years ago, Volkswagen proposed a settlement with a consumer’s class-action group: the automaker would put up more than $10 billion to fix or buy back roughly 475,000 diesel Volkswagens and Audis outfitted with illegal software. The software allowed the cars to pass emissions tests under pre-arranged testing conditions, but the cars suppressed the emissions control system while they were being driven on the road in the real world.
After news of the cheating was made public, the value of the affected vehicles dropped dramatically. Vehicle owners filed a class-action suit in district court, and VW Group proposed its settlement nearly a year later. Customers would have two years to file a claim for restitution. They also had a choice: allow VW Group to buy back their car at the value of the vehicle before the news of the cheating was made public, or allow VW Group to fix the vehicle to bring it into compliance with federal emissions rules. All owners and lessees would receive an additional cash payout as well.
Those two years are almost up. Through a website set up specifically to manage buyback claims and questions, Volkswagen Group of America (VGoA) warned customers that they should begin the process of applying for compensation by August 1 if they haven’t started or completed it already. The hard deadline to open a claim is September 1, and the deadline to finish filing that claim is December 1.
Lots of people want buybacks
Luckily, not too many people are scrambling to open claims these days. According toUSA Today, as of mid-July, 95 percent of the people who qualified for some form of compensation had already opened a claim, and 86 percent of those who qualified had also completed their claim.
Still, that leaves roughly 23,000 people who have not yet started the paperwork to make their claim official.
The claim process requires people who have purchased or leased a 2.0-liter diesel vehicle from Volkswagen or Audi to fill out an online or paper form and then submit that to VGoA. VGoA then reviews the document to make sure the signatory qualifies for the correct claim. The paperwork is sent back to the signatory, who needs to get a notary to sign it. Once that’s done, current owners of affected vehicles need to make an appointment with VGoA to turn over the car for purchase or repair.
The multi-step process could leave procrastinators competing with each other for final appointments, according to a press release from the Plaintiffs’ Committee for Volkswagen Litigation. Any missed steps or incorrectly filled-out paper work could slow the process down.
If customers miss these deadlines, they would likely not receive any payment from VW Group. In states where there’s no emissions testing program to re-register your vehicle, not getting the fix doesn’t change much (except that you’re unnecessarily spewing NOxemissions and will likely have a hard time re-selling your vehicle). Several states, according to Edmunds, have exempted the affected diesels from emissions testing as well.
According to GreenCarReports, “355,000 owners have had their diesels bought back, and another 57,000 have had their cars repaired to pollute less under the court-approved diesel settlement.” In a press release issued today, the Plaintiffs’ Committee for Volkswagen Litigation said that $7.75 billion of the $10.033 billion that VW Group set aside for buybacks and repairs has been used.
These deadlines don’t apply to owners of 3.0-liter diesel Volkswagens, Audis, and Porsches, which were covered under a separate settlement. “As of June 2018, Volkswagen has paid over $861 million to the 3.0-Liter class members as part of that settlement,” the Plaintiffs’ Committee for Volkswagen Litigation’s press release noted.