Volkswagen has reached a settlement with British drivers over the fallout of the automaker’s diesel emissions scandal. The German marque will pay out the equivalent of $242 million to settle a class-action lawsuit representing 91,000 diesel Volkswagen owners in the United Kingdom.
The 2015 Dieselgate scandal seems so long ago, in part because it was. But Volkswagen continues to face lawsuits stemming from the aftermath of its diesel vehicle emissions cheating scheme. About 11 million vehicles sold by Volkswagen Group worldwide — of which 1.2 million are in the UK — were found to emit up to 40 times the allowable limit of nitrogen oxides in real-world driving. When these vehicles were tested under lab conditions, the emissions were far lower, well within the legal limits. It was found that VW Group used a cheat device that changed how the vehicles ran when undergoing government testing to meet emissions regulations.
In the aftermath, Volkswagen has had to shell out about $40 billion in fines, buybacks and more. And that number doesn’t include class-action suits like this one.
This particular suit was launched in 2016, Reuters reports, when VW refused to compensate the owners of affected diesel models in the UK. The suit started with 70,000 drivers, later growing to around 91,000. The case has been raging on with a trial set for next year, but VW decided to settle the matter.
According to the Reuters report, Volkswagen’s decision comes after weighing the costs of litigating this case and appeals. The company found settling to be a better route. As part of that settlement, Volkswagen makes no admission of liability, causation or loss, but will pay 193 million pounds, or about $242 million USD at current exchange rates.
As reported by Sky News, the automotive giant will also make a contribution towards the legal fees of the claimants.
Litigation funder Therium, which represents the claimants, said in a statement to the press that the settlement represents a victory for vehicle owners.
Volkswagen seems happy to have Dieselgate largely behind it. From Reuters: “The Volkswagen Group is pleased that we have been able to conclude this long running litigation in England and Wales [....] The settlement is another important milestone as the Volkswagen Group continues to move beyond the deeply regrettable events leading up to September 2015.”
Just how much of that money will go to each individual TDI owner in the British class-action suit is unclear. Attorney payouts, court fees and administration fees are all taken out of a settlement like this before the money is distributed to the victims, and named plaintiffs may also get more money than the rest of the class.