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Judge extends Volkswagen diesel settlement deadline

Volkswagen and U.S. regulators are getting an extra week to finalize details of the diesel settlement announced in April. Terms were originally supposed to be finalized by next Tuesday, but a U.S. District Court Judge is extending the deadline to June 28.

Judge Charles Breyer said in a written order that he was extending the deadline at the request of former FBI director Robert S. Mueller, who is acting as a court-appointed mediator. The judge said an extension was necessary “given the highly technical nature of the proposed settlements in these complex proceedings,” according to Reuters.

The settlement only covers the 482,000 Volkswagen and Audi models equipped with 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines. VW, Audi, and Porsche models equipped with 3.0-liter V6 engines are still in limbo. Volkswagen is expected to offer to buy back the 2.0-liter cars, or modify them to meet emissions standards if owners don’t want to sell. A fund for monetary compensation will also be established, separate from the buyback offer.

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Exactly how the cars will be modified is unclear. Some may only require software changes, but others may not be able to meet emissions standards without the addition of complex after-treatment systems, which add urea fluid to the exhaust to scrub pollutants. On some older cars, the modifications may exceed the value of the vehicle.

It’s expected that another fund will be established for environmental remediation efforts, in order to counteract the effects of excess emissions from VW’s diesel cars. The company will likely have to pay fines for violations of the Clean Air Act as well. When the diesel scandal first broke back in September, the Environmental Protection Agency said those fines could total $18 billion. Volkswagen also faces an ongoing U.S. Justice Department investigation.

After it is finalized, the diesel settlement will be released for a public comment period before final judicial approval, which will come at a July 26 meeting. Judge Breyer did not delay that hearing, so the public comment period is now four weeks instead of five.