Volkswagen is no closer to starting a U.S. recall of diesel cars equipped with illegal “defeat device” emissions-cheating software, although the lawyer in charge of doling out money to owners says a “generous” compensation package is in the works.
Owners will be well compensated, although Volkswagen hasn’t decided exactly how or when, attorney Kenneth Feinberg told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung in an interview first translated by Reuters. He said VW doesn’t know whether it will offer owners buybacks, cash, replacement cars, or just the repairs needed to make vehicles compliant with emissions rules.
Feinberg was hired by Volkswagen in December to administer claims related to the ongoing diesel scandal. He previously ran victim compensation funds for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the 2010 BP oil spill, and the General Motors ignition switch fiasco.
The method of compensation isn’t the only thing up in the air. Feinberg told the German paper that he probably won’t be able to meet the original 60-to-90 day deadline for setting up the compensation fund, because Volkswagen and U.S. regulators still haven’t agreed on how to proceed with a recall. He said his hands are tied “as long as VW and the authorities have not overcome their differences.”
There are two diesel powertrains involved, and fixes for both must be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board. The two agencies rejected a proposal for the 482,000 cars equipped with 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines in December, and VW just submitted a proposal for the 85,000 cars with 3.0-liter V6 engines last week.
Despite the apparent anger of some owners, Feinberg said many view the issue of compensation as “purely a business transaction,” without the emotion that accompanies cases involving loss of life. He believes the vast majority of owners will accept the eventual offer, whatever it happens to be.