Volkswagen To Buy Back 500,000 Cars, Will Pay $1 Billion To Car Owners

After contentious negotiations, Volkswagen has agreed today to buy back some of the 500,000 U.S. cars outfitted with cheat software designed to trick emissions tests – a fraction of the 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide that have been equipped with the illicit emissions cheating software. The move comes as Volkswagen continues to negotiate with the U.S. government and private lawyers over the emissions cheating scandal.

Of the 11 million cars sold by Volkswagen that contain the illegal emissions cheating software, reports say around 500,000 cars will be bought back, and according to sources close to the deal, the fund set up by Volkswagen to pay for consumer relief efforts is "over $1 billion."

"They've agreed on a maximum amount of money, over $1 billion. How it's allocated and distributed, that remains to be seen," said an anonymous source speaking to The Washington Post.

At exactly $1 billion, the Volkswagen buy-back program would leave about $1,700 for each affected car if split evenly. It's unlikely, however, that Volkswagen will offer to buy back every single car for less than $2,000, and according to commentators it's more likely that Volkswagen will use the fund on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, The Post speculates, Volkswagen may be able to issue a software patch to remove the emissions cheating software, and in others – for older cars – it may be very costly to remove or repair the damage caused by the emissions cheating software.

"Volkswagen will pay cash compensation to owners who either sell their vehicles back, or get them fixed. Owners selling back their vehicles will get an additional cash payment on top of receiving the estimated value of the vehicles from before the emissions scandal became public in September 2015," reported Reuters today, detailing the confidential talks between U.S. government attorneys and Volkswagen group.

Further details of the Volkswagen buyback deal will likely be released tomorrow after both parties have presented the final deal to a federal judge, but at this point, critics are still skeptical of Volkswagen's actions in the aftermath of the shocking emissions scandal which has already cost the company its reputation. Critics are concerned, Ars Technica reports, that Volkswagen will buy back the affected vehicles and simply sell them in markets with more relaxed emissions standards. According to Reuters, it's unclear if this kind of re-selling of the faulty vehicles will be allowed.

The first news of the Volkswagen emissions scandal broke in September of last year when the automaker confirmed that some of its diesel vehicles had been outfitted with software designed to cheat U.S. emissions tests, giving artificially low emissions numbers to government regulators. Volkswagen's U.S. CEO testified before Congress in October and claimed the emissions cheating software was planted by "rogue engineers" within the company, not by any direction from executives.

"On behalf of our company, and my colleagues in Germany, I would like to offer a sincere apology for Volkswagen's use of a software program that served to defeat regular the emissions testing regime," said Volkswagen's U.S. CEO Michael Horn, during a congressional hearing late last year.

The congressional panel, however, didn't buy it – they pressed Horn at every opportunity, stating that Volkswagen's reputation and its word had become "worthless" after the emissions cheating scandal.

"I categorically reject everything Volkswagen is saying about a couple of rogue engineers. It goes way, way higher than that," said Representative Chris Collins of New York, speaking to Volkswagen's U.S. CEO Michael Horn.

Since the Volkswagen emissions scandal broke in September, the automaker has been hit with over 600 civil lawsuits filed by Volkswagen owners, as TheInquisitr reported previously. All 600 cases are being overseen by U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer, who first laid out the deadline for a deal between the U.S. Government and Volkswagen.

[Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images]