Volkswagen Claims Fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg said he is ready to start compensating owners of VW diesel vehicles affected by the automaker’s emissions cheat, predicting that most all of the nearly 600,000 owners would accept offers from the fund.
However, Mr. Feinberg told a German newspaper that his “hands are tied” until VW leaders and U.S. environmental regulators have agreed on a plan to repair the vehicles.
Mr. Feinberg has not yet disclosed what options VW owners will be given, as much of what the company offers pivots on an acceptable solution to the emissions cheat, which allows certain diesel vehicles to spew up to 40 times more pollution than federal regulations allow.
Possibilities for compensations include monetary refunds, vehicle buybacks, and repair options. The repair remains a tricky and complicated one to settle, as simply reprogramming the vehicles to keep emissions controls active will diminish vehicle performance.
Currently, the vehicles are programmed to detect when they are being tested for emissions and turn on controls that restrict the amount of pollution they emit. During regular driving, the emissions controls shut off, resulting in the vehicle emitting illegal quantities of greenhouse gases and other environmental pollutants.
Mr. Feinberg, charged by VW with developing what he considered to be the best solution, pointed to his success in handing other major compensation funds in predicting almost all claimants would settle through the fund.
“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,” he told Reuters.
Mr. Feinberg also said he expects the claims process to move more quickly because it doesn’t involve injury and loss of life, so claimants will be “calmer.” “It is a purely business transaction, less emotional,” he told Reuters.
Claimants who do not accept compensation offers from the VW Fund retain their right to pursue legal action against the automaker. Several class action lawsuits have been filed against the automaker seeing compensation for economic losses related to the emissions cheat.