Volkswagen Canada has reached a $2.1 billion settlement to resolve class claims with about 105,000 vehicle owners in the diesel emissions scandal in what Canadian regulators are calling one of the largest consumer settlements in history. The proposed settlement will provide certain VW and Audi vehicle owners and lessees with cash payments as well as buybacks, trade-ins, potential modifications and early lease termination. The settlement is subject to approval by two courts to resolve actions filed by owners of vehicles with 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection diesel engines.
As a result of the settlement, Canada’s Competition Bureau said that it reached a consent agreement with Volkswagen Group Canada and Audi Canada for an additional monetary penalty of $15 million. The Bureau found that consumers were misled by the promotion of clean diesel engines. Commissioner of Competition John Pecman in a statement:
Consumers expect and deserve truth in advertising, particularly when it relates to such a significant investment. We are pleased that Canadians will now begin to receive compensation and that Volkswagen Canada and Audi Canada will address the impact this matter has had on the marketplace. The Bureau works to ensure that Canadians can trust advertising claims made by businesses and can be confident in their purchasing decisions.
Approval hearings are expected to be held in March 2017, according to Canadian regulators. Volkswagen has faced multiple investigations and legal actions since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in September 2015 accused the company of deliberately installing devices in the computers of its many diesel vehicles that would allow them to cheat testing labs. The U.S. government hit VW and it subsidiaries with a Clean Air Act suit in January. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer granted final approval to a $14.7 billion settlement for 2.0-liter vehicles in October, though that sum may rise as VW negotiates an agreement for its 3.0-liter cars.
The company faced two class actions in Canada from consumers seeking damages over the emissions scandal, one in Ontario Superior Court of Justice and the other in Superior Court of Quebec.
Volkswagen said terms of the settlement were reached by Volkswagen and class counsel in consultation with the Commissioner of Competition. Each eligible class member will qualify for a restitution payment based on the year and make of their vehicle, as well as whether they owned or leased their vehicle. Payments for eligible owners range from $5,100 to $8,000, according to VW, while lessees can receive between $1,275 and $4,000, based on the model, make and year of their vehicle.
To see if their vehicle is covered under the settlement Canadian consumers can enter their car’s VIN number on a website created to advise the terms and inform class members. Affected vehicles include 2-liter diesel engine models of the 2009-2015 VW Jetta, 2009 VW Jetta Wagon, 2010-2013 and 2015 VW Golf, 2010-2014 VW Golf Sportwagon, 2013-2015 VW Golf Wagon, 2012-2015 VW Passat, 2010-2013 and 2015 Audi A3, and 2013-2015 VW Beetles.
The settlement class is represented by Harvey T. Strosberg of Sutts Strosberg; Charles M. Wright of Siskinds; and Daniel Belleau of Belleau Lapointe. The settlement agreement is filed under Commissioner of Competition v. Volkswagen Group Canada Inc. and Audi Canada Inc. in the Competition Tribunal.
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