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Canadian VW Owners Stuck in Park as U.S. Emissions Settlement Proceeds

nadeem1991 / Pixabay
nadeem1991 / Pixabay

After hearing last-minute objections yesterday, a U.S. federal judge said he was “strongly inclined” to give final approval to a deal struck earlier this year between American authorities and Volkswagen AG to compensate owners of its diesel cars duped by false fuel efficiency claims. But Canadian owners of the same vehicle models are still waiting to hear what they can expect.

Volkswagen is asking U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco to sign off on a US$14.7 billion settlement announced in draft form last June. Along with other penalties for the company, the settlement requires Volkswagen to either repair or buy back roughly 482,000 vehicles it sold in the United States with non-compliant emission controls and software designed to conceal their real pollution levels.

However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has yet to approve any of the repair options the company has proposed, Bloomberg reports. “Without an approved repair, VW may be left with only one option: buy back the cars with so-called defeat devices from the owners.”

But while the deal may placate the company’s U.S. customers, CBC News reports that Canadian owners of affected cars remain uncertain when, or if, they will be similarly compensated.

“Canadian owners of diesel VWs have been faced with uncertainty since it was learned in 2015 the engines emit nitrogen oxide at a level many times more than permitted under pollution standards,” CBC writes. “They’ll take a financial hit if they sell the cars, but have yet to hear how Volkswagen will compensate them.”

Lawyers representing plaintiffs in a number of class action suits remain in negotiations with the company’s Canadian branch, the national broadcaster reports. But “a spokesperson from Volkswagen Canada told CBC News in an email that a court order requires all parties to keep the details related to settlement discussions in Canada confidential.”

With that blackout in place, and no settlement in sight, “I am held hostage by Volkswagen,” Sarnia Passat owner Dennis Hobday told CBC. “Nobody wants my car. I hate them for putting me in that position.”