SAN FRANCISCO — A deal has been reached in principle between Volkswagen and the U.S. Justice Department in the ongoing diesel-emissions scandal, but neither side is providing specifics for affected owners at this point.
There are widespread reports that owners may receive as much as $5,000 in vehicle buybacks. They may also have the option of lease cancellation and having their diesel vehicles modified, once a repair is announced.
The agreement, which covers nearly 500,000 diesel cars in the U.S., was announced in court by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer here on Thursday. He reportedly said the deal includes "substantial compensation" for affected owners, according to media reports.
But Volkswagen stopped short of disclosing details for owners.
"Volkswagen is committed to earning back the trust of its customers, dealers, regulators and the American public," wrote Jeannine Ginivan, a Volkswagen Group of America spokeswoman, in response to a query from Edmunds. "These agreements in principle are an important step on the road to making things right. As noted today in court, customers in the United states do not need to take any action at this time."
She added: "Further details will be worked out with the parties. Those details are confidential until finalized."
Ginivan said there is no specific compensation amount that can be confirmed at this time. She said the deal only affects 2.0-liter diesel vehicles and not an estimated 80,000 3.0-liter diesel vehicles made by VW, Audi and Porsche.
The affected vehicles in the deal include:
• 2009-'14 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen
• 2010-'13, 2015 Audi A3
• 2013-'15 Volkswagen Beetle
• 2013-'15 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
• 2010-'15 Volkswagen Golf
• 2009-'15 Volkswagen Jetta
• 2012-'15 Volkswagen Passat
• 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
They were equipped with so-called "defeat devices" that allow the vehicles to cheat on emissions tests and spew up to 40 times the allowed level of pollutants into the air in violation of the U.S. Clean Air Act.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had no comment on the deal and referred all questions to the U.S. Department of Justice.
"This agreement in principle addresses one important aspect of the department's pending case against VW, namely what to do about the 2.0-liter diesel cars on the road and the environmental consequences resulting from their excess emissions," wrote Wyn Hornbuckle, a U.S. Department of Justice spokesman, in response to a query from Edmunds. "The Department's other investigations into VW's conduct remain active and ongoing."
Volkswagen faces massive fines for violating the Clean Air Act, in addition to criminal investigations and a federal lawsuit for deceptive advertising for "clean diesel" cars.
Edmunds says: This tentative deal is a good first step toward making things right for Volkswagen owners and dealers.