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VW Owners Mull Options After Carmaker Settles Emissions Scandal Case


The owners of nearly 500,000 Volkswagen diesel vehicles are weighing their options today. The company says it will compensate owners who bought VW vehicles advertised as clean diesel but were really anything but clean.


Under the terms of the deal, VW will spend up to $10 billion to fix or buy back the cars. NPR's John Ydstie talked with some VW owners.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: David McKinley lives in Dartmouth, Mass. He says after the emissions cheating scandal broke last September, he was skeptical he would be fully compensated for his 2013 Passat Turbo diesel. But now he thinks he will.

DAVID MCKINLEY: I will get paid back more than I owe on the car, which is awfully nice. And I'll be able to make a decision about what I'd like to purchase after that.

YDSTIE: VW has agreed to pay owners the pre-scandal value of their cars based on the NADA Blue Book value as of September 2015. And owners of the 2-liter VW and Audi diesels from 2009 to 2016 will receive additional compensation. Depending on the age of their vehicle, they would receive between $5,100 and $10,000 in additional cash. McKinley says he intends to take the money and buy a new car, but not a Volkswagen.

MCKINLEY: Last Halloween, I dressed up as a VW diesel with a Massachusetts license plate that read cheater.

YDSTIE: McKinley says it will take some more time for VW to regain his trust. Lisa Ingardia of of Johns Creek, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, says she would consider buying another VW like her 2016 Passat, which she loves. But, she says, she's not interested in having it fixed.

LISA INGARDIA: From what I understand in the settlement, they haven't agreed upon what a fix is. They don't know what that will be. And I don't really want to be part of an experiment.

YDSTIE: Ingardia also believes the settlement is fair.

INGARDIA: I think I probably will be fully compensated for the purchase price of the vehicle.

YDSTIE: People who have leased the vehicles involved in the recall will also be compensated. They may terminate their leases with no fee and will receive 10 percent of the car's base value plus about $1,500. Out in St. Louis, Mo., Leslie Ringling is weighing whether to fix or sell back her 2009 Jetta diesel, which she's driven 107,000 miles.

LESLIE RINGLING: Right now, if it continues to run as well as it has, I would just have them fix it. And I would continue to drive it.

YDSTIE: And Ringling also thinks the settlement is a good deal for owners.

RINGLING: When this first happened and my husband and I were discussing the situation, we kind of come up with a similar plan that, you know, we should get the value of the car pre-scandal plus some additional monetary compensation.

YDSTIE: The settlement also contains provisions to safeguard consumers as they deal with VW to get their compensation. James Kohm, associate director of enforcement at the Federal Trade Commission, one of the parties in the settlement, explains.

JAMES KOHM: You're entitled to an appointment within 90 days. You don't have to wait two years to get your remedy. If you're going to sell your car, your check should be waiting for you when you get there so that you can pick up the check when you get there.

YDSTIE: And by the end of next month, when the court is expected to give final approval to the deal, owners will be able to go to a website, VWcourtsettlement.com, to determine the actual value they're owed. Owners may begin providing information to Volkswagen at the end of next month. The final deadline for filing a claim is September 2018. John Ydstie, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

John Ydstie has covered the economy, Wall Street, and the Federal Reserve at NPR for nearly three decades. Over the years, NPR has also employed Ydstie's reporting skills to cover major stories like the aftermath of Sept. 11, Hurricane Katrina, the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. He was a lead reporter in NPR's coverage of the global financial crisis and the Great Recession, as well as the network's coverage of President Trump's economic policies. Ydstie has also been a guest host on the NPR news programs Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. Ydstie stepped back from full-time reporting in late 2018, but plans to continue to contribute to NPR through part-time assignments and work on special projects.
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