Volkswagen’s emissions cheating will cost the company at least $15 billion in the United States alone.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Volkswagen would make the largest-ever automobile buy-back offer in U.S. history.
Reports that Volkswagen had cheated on emissions tests in the U.S. first came out late last year. Investigators found that the German automaker had installed software in its vehicles that produced false test results. It would reduce the cars' pollution levels during testing. So, the vehicles would wrongly pass U.S. pollution tests.
Owners of about 500,000 Volkswagen automobiles in the U.S. will now be able to sell their vehicles back to the company for a fair price. The owners will also be paid up to $10,000 each.
The car maker will also pay about $5 billion for U.S. programs that promote no-emission vehicles and reduce air pollution in general.
The Volkswagen cars involved created 40 times more pollution than is permitted in most U.S. states. The scandal affected 11 million vehicles worldwide.
Volkswagen must repair or buy 85 percent of the cars by June 2019 or else it will face more punishment.
The settlement resolves the largest class-action lawsuit in U.S. automotive history.
But the legal process is not yet over. Volkswagen and the Department of Justice have not decided what to do about the 85,000 other VW vehicles under investigation.
Volkswagen also produces cars sold under the Audi and Porsche brands in the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy said the most important thing is “getting VW’s vehicles off the road.”
In a statement posted on its website, Volkswagen said the settlement is not an admission of liability.
In other automotive news, the Japanese car company Toyota Motor Corporation announced a recall of over 3 million vehicles.
Toyota says some cars have faulty airbags and failing emissions control units. The cars under recall are the Prius, Corolla and Lexus CT200h models produced as long ago as 2006.
Technicians work on a Toyota Corolla assembly line, Blue Springs, Mississippi, Feb. 12, 2015.
The recall is not linked to the Takata company. Takata is an airbag supplier responsible for recent recalls by many car companies.
Airbag problems have affected over 100 million vehicles around the world.
I’m Anne Ball.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on reports from VOANews.com, Associated Press and Reuters. Caty Weaver was the editor.
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Words in This Story
emissions – n. the pollution sent out by a car after its fuel ignites
settlement – n. a lawsuit in which many people join together to sue because they all say they were harmed by the same person or group
class-action – n. a lawsuit in which many people join together to sue because they all say they were harmed by the same person or group
scandal – n. an occurrence in which people are shocked and upset because of behavior that is morally or legally wrong
liability – n. the state of being legally responsible for something: the state of being liable for something
recall – n. a request by a company for people to return a product that has a defect or problem