Oct 26, 2016 06:18 AM EDT

Volkswagen Scandal: Volkswagen’s $15B Settlement gets Final Approval; Affected Customers can now Make Claims

A federal judge has given the final approval of Volkswagen's $15 billion settlement agreement with private plaintiffs represented by a Court-appointed Plaintiffs' Steering Committee. Eligible customers can  now submit their claims to the German automaker.

Volkswagen said in a press release that Judge Charles R. Breyer of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has granted the final approval. The settlement deal concerns the automaker's diesel car emissions scandal.

"Final approval of the 2.0L TDI settlement is an important milestone in our journey to making things right in the United States," Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. President and CEO Hinrich J. Woebcken said. "We appreciate the efforts of all parties involved in this process."

USA Today reports that Mr. Breyer said the agreement is "fair, reasonable and adequate." The settlement comes about a year after Volkswagen admitted that it rigged 11 million vehicles worldwide to cheat on its emissions.

"The priority was to get the polluting cars off the road as soon as possible," Breyer said. "The settlement does that," adding that even "under heightened scrutiny" the deal is laudable.

The settlement sets in motion a massive vehicle buyback program and an environmental remediation effort. The buyback value ranges from $12,475 to $44,176, which varies based on mileage and includes restitution payments.

Customers who are opting for their vehicle to be fixed will receive payouts that range from $5,100 to $9,852, depending on the book value of their car. The fix will be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency if and when it becomes available.

The vehicles included in the settlement program are the 2013 to 2015 VW Beetle, the 2010 to 2015 VW Golf, the 2009 to 2015 VW Jetta, the 2010 to 2015 VW Passat and 2010 to 2013 and 2015 Audi A3. Implementation of the settlement program will begin immediately. 

Volkswagen also agreed to pay $2.7 billion, over three years, to remediate excess nitrogen oxide emissions. Another $2 billion will be invested, over ten years, in zero emissions vehicle infrastructure, access and awareness initiatives.

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