Volkswagen Reaches $2.1 Billion Agreement To Compensate Diesel Owners In Canada

Photo: Kevin Wolf/AP

U.S. owners of cheating Volkswagen diesel cars are slowly starting to get buyback money from the car company, but in Canada, things have remained quiet. Now, 15 months after the Wolfsburg-based car firm was caught cheating on emissions tests, CBC News reports Canadian TDI owners will get compensation to the tune of $2.1 billion CAD.

In the U.S., approximately 480,000 VWs equipped with 2.0-liter diesels were part of an unprecedented $14.7 billion settlement that included $10.033 billion set aside for vehicle buybacks. In Canada, the numbers are much lower, at about 105,000 affected Jetta, Golf, Passat, Beetle and Audi A3 owners, and $2.1 billion put aside to take the polluting cars off owners’ hands.

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Still, the overall settlement terms between the Canadian and U.S. agreements look similar. The agreement in principle—which still needs final approval from Quebec and Ontario courts before going live on March 31— stipulates that TDI owners in Canada get to sell their cars back, trade them in, or have them fixed. On top of that, VW will pay class members between $5,100 and $8,000 CAD in restitution.

The agreement approved by the U.S. District Court Of Northern California in October, offered U.S. owners between $5,100 and approximately $10,000 USD in restitution, and also gave the options of either a buyback or a vehicle modification.

CBC spoke with co-lead counsel for the class-action suit, Harvey T. Strosberg, and he discussed the differences between the two settlements, saying:

...the punitive damages are enormous in the U.S. They have [product] recall statutes that make treble damages. We don’t have something like that here, but we have a fair and reasonable system.

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He also went on, saying the values of the vehicles in Canada were different than in the U.S. Still, he said, “It’s a huge number... No corporation has paid that money in Canadian history. It is a watershed moment.”

On top of that $2.1 billion figure, the news site mentioned, Canada’s Federal Competition Bureau slapped at $15 million penalty to punish VW for its false advertising, saying in a press release:

The bureau’s investigation found that Volkswagen Canada and Audi Canada misled consumers by promoting vehicles sold or leased in Canada as having clean diesel engines with reduced emissions that were cleaner than an equivalent gasoline engine sold in Canada.

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This agreement in principle is good news for everybody, as VW and TDI owners alike would just like to put this in their rearview. Let’s just hope that when this settlement does go through final approval in late March, VW is ready to process all those buybacks, because the company has been struggling in the U.S.

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David Tracy

Writer, Jalopnik. 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, 1985 Jeep J10, 1948 Willys CJ-2A, 1995 Jeep Cherokee, 1992 Jeep Cherokee auto, 1991 Jeep Cherokee 5spd, 1976 Jeep DJ-5D, totaled 2003 Kia Rio