VW advancing in settlement talks with U.S. Justice Department: lawyer

Thu Feb 25, 2016 12:13pm EST
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By David Shepardson

(Reuters) - A lawyer for Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) told a federal judge on Thursday the German automaker is making progress in senior level settlement talks with the U.S. Justice Department, Environmental Protection Agency and California to reach a resolution over excess emissions in nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles.

Lawyer Robert Giuffra told U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer at a court hearing in San Francisco the automaker is making progress in trying to reach a settlement after it admitted to using software to emit up to 40 times legally allowable emissions in vehicles sold since 2009.

"The discussions are progressing," Giuffra said.

The Justice Department last month sued VW for up to $46 billion for violating U.S. environmental laws.

Breyer said he wants a definite answer by March 24 from VW and the EPA on whether the sides have found an acceptable fix for the vehicles, noting that VW admitted the excess emissions nearly six months ago.

"This is an ongoing problem," Breyer said, adding that he has a "sense of urgency" about seeing a resolution. VW said it wants to move soon.

"We are committed to resolving these matters as quickly as possible," Giuffra said, noting that the issue impacts up to 11 million vehicles in 100 countries.

Giuffra told the court VW may have something more definitive to say in about a month or so, but declined to offer specifics of the talks, or of any proposals on the table. He said the Justice Department has asked VW not to discuss any aspect of the negotiations.   Continued...

Volkswagen's logo is seen at its dealer shop in Beijing, China, October 1, 2015.  REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon