Volkswagen creates U.S. diesel emissions claims program

Fri Dec 18, 2015 12:30pm EST
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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Volkswagen of America said on Thursday it is creating an independent claims program for the owners of nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles that emit up to 40 times legally allowable emissions.

The German automaker said it was naming compensation expert Ken Feinberg, who administered compensation funds for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, BP Plc Deepwater Horizon oil spill and General Motors Co ignition switch crashes, to create and administer the program.

VW has acknowledged that 482,000 2.0 liter 2009-2015 diesel cars and 85,000 3.0 liter SUVs and larger cars have higher-than-allowed emissions and faces more than 500 U.S. lawsuits.

VW said Feinberg "will develop an independent, fair and swift process for resolving these claims."

Camille Biros, deputy administrator of the VW claims program, said it is too early to say if the program would offer buybacks to vehicle owners, cash or other specific compensation for mileage or performance harmed by emissions repairs. "Everything is on the table," Biros said.

Feinberg said the program would need to know what VW's recall fixes are before it can move forward.

"Until we have an understanding of the remedies" we can't predict costs, Feinberg said on a conference call.

One goal of the program is to get claims out of the legal system, Feinberg said. In other similar compensation programs participants have agreed to forgo lawsuits, but no decisions about that have been made, he said.   Continued...

A worker wearing a protective mask stands next to a Volkswagen logo at a dealership in Madrid, Spain, December 16, 2015.  REUTERS/Sergio Perez