Volkswagen to offer generous compensation for U.S. customers: fund head

Sun Feb 7, 2016 4:05pm EST
 
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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Volkswagen will offer generous compensation packages to the roughly 600,000 U.S. owners of diesel vehicles whose emissions are over the legal limit, the head of its claims fund told a German paper.

The German car maker has still not decided whether vehicle owners will be offered cash, car buy-backs, repairs or replacement cars, Kenneth Feinberg told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Feinberg previously headed the compensation funds for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill and General Motors' ignition switch crashes.

On Friday, Volkswagen postponed the publication of its 2015 results and delayed its annual shareholders' meeting as it struggles to put an exact price on its emissions scandal.

More than four months after the scandal broke in the United States, Europe's leading car maker has still not won approval for a fix for any of the vehicles. Last week it named a new head of its U.S. legal department to help resolve the case.

Feinberg told the paper he was unlikely to meet his goal of setting up the claims fund within 60 to 90 days, saying: "My hands are tied as long as VW and the authorities have not overcome their differences."

He said he expected an overwhelming majority to accept the eventual offer, and that VW had given him full authority to set the level.

"Look at my prior cases: 97 percent of the victims of Sept. 11 accepted my offer. At GM and BP it was more than 90 percent, too. That has to be my target for VW," Feinberg said.

"It is a purely business transaction, less emotional. I see that from emails I get from vehicle owners, who say things like: 'Mr. Feinberg, I know I haven't lost a relative, I just want to be treated fairly.' They are all quite reasonable."   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