By on January 28, 2016


A lawyer for Volkswagen said in court that the automaker would buy back cars that it can’t fix in time, the first admission from the company that some of its cars may not be fixable, according to the New York Times.

Volkswagen lawyer Robert Giuffra told a court last week during hearings related to the class-action lawsuits facing the automaker that the company hadn’t determined how many cars would be affected.

“We might have to do a buyback or some sort of a solution like that for some subset of the vehicles, but that hasn’t been determined yet,” Giuffra said according to the report.

Last year, reports from Germany indicated that the company was preparing to buy back up to 115,000 older diesel cars that couldn’t be repaired.

Those cars would likely be older cars, fitted with Volkswagen’s EA189 engines, which Volkswagen of America boss Michael Horn told Congress in October would need significant hardware revisions to bring into compliance — without any severe impacts on performance and fuel economy.

Horn told Congress that the vast majority of affected cars in the U.S. are older models with the EA189 engine — perhaps more than 300,000 cars.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

37 Comments on “Volkswagen Lawyer: Automaker May Buy Back Unfixable Cars...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    A lot of people support this approach, but nobody will agree on the terms.

    1. Do they just get a check?
    2. Do they have to turn the car in to be crushed, or will they be resold in Mali?
    3. Do they merely receive a voucher for another VW?
    4. How will all these vehicles be valued?
    5. Does the customer have a choice?
    6. What about all the used TDI inventory in the US?
    7. How will consumer loans be closed out?
    8. Does it become illegal to own an E189 after the deal is struck?
    9. Will these terms vary by state?

    Being forced by your state to accept a check for $3000 for a beat-up TDI with 200k miles on it won’t cut it when that’s your only transportation – for example.

    But I also can’t see Volkswagen issuing checks for $25k to every E189 owner and saying “good luck with your new Hyundai.”

    • 0 avatar

      Even $3k will buy a decent Accord, Civic, Focus, etc. Perhaps even newer models of cheap cars like Rio/Accent, base Lancer, etc. Cars that will probably end up costing the owner less in repairs/service down the road vs. a VW (especially the first 3 I mentioned).

      Id be all for the $3k check for a 200k VW that will now forever be known as an example of VW’s F’up/shame, and will likely be worth very little in the future, given the events that concern it.

      The same thing that happened with Nissan’s Vanette (similar to Toyota’s pre-Previa minivan) that was sold in North America with an engine that loved to catch the vehicle on fire (due to how crammed it was into an engine bay designed for a smaller engine). Who would buy one today if they knew of the incredible risk they pose? Okay, well, I would…but still.

      TDI’s have now had their reputation stomped into the ground. Anyone who hasnt been living under a rock since this past summer would know the story, and therefor wouldnt pay much for the car (especially true in areas that require emissions testing). Id gladly accept a check for the car at it’s pre-crisis value. That would be the best possible outcome in this situation.

      • 0 avatar

        Where do you live that you can get a decent used car for $3K?

        Around my parts, you will spend at least $5K for a daily-driver used car, and even in that price range, you can safely count on the vehicle needing another $1-2K worth of repairs/maintenance.

      • 0 avatar

        I completely agree, the value of our TDIs is now crap and we’re stuck with them..even worse if we are forced to have some massive mechanical “upgrade” done to the vehicles at a the dealership.

        I want my car bought back at fair pre-scandal value.


      • 0 avatar

        “TDI’s have now had their reputation stomped into the ground. Anyone who hasnt been living under a rock since this past summer would know the story, and therefor wouldnt pay much for the car”

        Tell that to the used car dealers around here. No drop in prices that I have seen. Probably won’t change until the “fixed” cars start hitting the market with worse economy and performance.

    • 0 avatar

      An UpTrade program would be a smart move. POS –> CPO.

    • 0 avatar

      I traded in my 12 JSW tdi in late Sept, a few days after dieselgate story broke because I knew things would get ugly fast. I got $14000 for it and if I tried to trade in today I would get just 11798 per KBB. I am very happy that I acted quickly, which interestingly enough I was widely criticized for at the time.

    • 0 avatar

      I have read several opinions and statements on this site regarding the volkswagon Jetta TDI seems that some of you are misinformed about the value of your TDI I own a car dealership we buy and sale all makes and models my wife owns a 2012 Jetta TDI loaded out sport addition fender stereo system moonroof spoiler leather I believe I paid 26, 800 out the door in Birmingham Alabama from Royal dealership now I can tell you the Price on that car at Mannheim or Adesa auction with anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 miles runs from $10,000 to $12,000 so if you’re blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other I understand that you say it hasn’t affected the price of vehicles the tdi has lost more than half of its value if you don’t believe me go to your nearest dealership and try to trade it in they give you 10 if you’re lucky . All we can hope for is a buyout of 25 grand I know a lot of people that paid a lot more than I do and I can however attest to the excellent fuel mileage the diesel bitch gets 48 to 49 on the interstate 51 to 52 with me driving and a constant 33 around town . I will not return the vehicle to be worked on because I know it will affect the mileage that something that I will not except would you be happy with 20 miles to the gallon that’s what you’re going to get if they re-boot the computer not mine .

  • avatar



    • 0 avatar

      Doesn’t bother me at all. My Passat TDI gets incredible fuel economy, and that’s the point for at least some of us. Diesel now costs almost the same as regular gasoline, so even better.

      • 0 avatar

        Same here. The ability to drive from Connecticut to North Carolina on one tank trumps everything. Now, our car has two insurance claims on it (backed into when parked, hit a deer) so if VW were to offer a buy back (2013 Passat with urea systems, so not likely) I would consider it.

  • avatar
    Dr. Doctor

    I’d be willing to bet that they’ll either give you what the vehicle was worth prior to this whole affair or offer you slightly more if you purchase a new VW. Hell will freeze over before they’d give back what the original MSRP for the vehicle was.

    The non-complying vehicles will probably go on to be sold in nations where the emissions regulations are a moot point. There’s some value there and VW will need to recoup money somehow.

    Since the E189 engines don’t comply with Federal law, it’ll probably mean that if you’re caught with one the vehicle will be seized and crushed just like any other non-compliant vehicle that isn’t 25 years or older. The state doesn’t care if its your only source of transportation, it only cares about enforcing the letter of the law.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      You may be correct on all points. But forcing people to accept a pittance for their now-clunker (leaving them car-less) will likely result in more lawsuits so that people can be made whole.

      If a court enforces such a miserable settlement, my prior prediction will come true: VW’s brand equity will be severely damaged, and current/potential customers will walk away from them.

      I don’t see a clean (!) exit for VW from this mess.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Doctor

        From a legal standpoint if they pay out at fair market value or slightly above it then the job’s done. Just have them waive their ability to sue or join a class-action suit if they take the deal.

        VW of America is such a small part of their operations that an exit wouldn’t be too big of an impact. Most people don’t even know that Porsche and Audi are owned by them.

    • 0 avatar

      The settlement may stipulate that the cars be rendered undrivable and crushed as was the case with the Cash for Clunkers vehicles that ironically were traded in for many of those 2009 Sportwagens.

    • 0 avatar

      Doubt they would force people to turn them in. There aren’t enough of them out there to make enough difference in the environment. The government will most likely fine VW for “environmental cleanup”. Any further compensation to VW owners will most likely be through some sort of class action.

      Actually the smart thing to do would be for the government (and I can’t believe I used smart and government in the same sentence) to fine VW per registered non-compliant vehicle per year. That puts the onus on VW to get the problem fixed and/or get the owners to trade them in.

      • 0 avatar

        I see the point about the numbers of cars and putting their extra NOX in context with other much bigger polluters, but no regulator at least not the ones here in the US would be willing to just roll over and allow the cars to de-facto violate emissions standards. Even if the regulators agree to some paper fix and fines, or to a combination of a paper exemption and some partial fix, the optics of this will haunt regulators for years to come. They are very attuned to not undermining the respect they are supposed to get, and the image they project.

        If anyone claims that the cars are going to pollute much less after some proposed fix, everyone knows that there will be follow-on road-test measurements and whatever results from that had better jibe with the official line from VW and from regulators. It’s really puts the pressure on the regulators to do all they can to compel VW to fix the non-compliance aspects of the issue.

        I am not sure it would be so easy for states with no regular emissions checks to opt out of whatever fix and remedy is agreed to between the EPA and VW. The states and the EPA have more dimensions to their relationship than this issue.

    • 0 avatar

      It’ll be really interesting to see how the Gen 1 cars are handled. I’m all for a buyback since my car is now about 3.5 years old and things are starting to happen with it (that likely wouldn’t be happening if it was from any other manufacturer).

      I’d love to get full purchase price back, but doubt that will be the case. However, if they could pay my remaining loan amount off and give me a voucher for a big chunk of the value of a new TSI wagon ($10000 off?), I’d be okay with that.

  • avatar

    What a complete and total Charlie Fox-Trot.

    Winterkorn will forever be on Toyoda san and Barra’s Christmas card list. It is just the gift that keeps on giving. If Takata didn’t keep fragging their customers to remind people every now and then about their scandal, they’d be in the clear too.

    How not to manage a crisis.

  • avatar

    I have been wondering how VW came up with the number of cars it believed would be bought back. There is a big difference between 115,000 and 320,000. Why not offer to buy back all EA 189s without SCR?

    • 0 avatar

      That is the million dollar question, my best guess is that the 115k number is just not that accurate. Any and all of the EA189s without SCR would need to be either completely retrofitted with a SCR system or bought back. Obviously they (nor anyone) has the technology to pass the emissions laws without it.

      It sounds like CARB/EPA are not willing to wait around for years for VW to come up with a suitable retrofit, with all of the testing etc that goes along with it. I think a buyback may be in the works.

  • avatar

    Not sure how many people will take the VW deal if offered, lets say the offer me 12k for my 2011 TDI wagon 120K, I bought it new and its paid for so what do I do with the 12k, buy something else and take a loan for 15K? Not sure I want to do that, my car is paid off and is running fine, unlike many here I own a VW out of warranty ( god forbid) and timed it so I would have no car debt while Child one is in collage. I like 600 miles to a tank and 42MPG , I am ok with paying more for fuel, and maintaining the car the way it is supposed to be done, tranny flush every 40K. I doubt I can find a car that I like that much and does what my wagon does for 12K. Now if VW gave me 12K and say 5K loyalty . sorry we screwed you off another VW, I would have to crunch the numbers and see how much my insurance would go up on a GTI and what my payment would be.
    I doubt the gov is gonna take the cars away form consumers who did nothing wrong, this is not like I imported a gray car knowing the risks.
    I think if VW has to do the buyback it will be a enhanced trade in to keep the buyers in newer VW’s and the plant running, take the old cars and export them. I am not saying VW did nothing wrong, they cheated and got caught but I am still not sure how much my car pollutes vs. the car I replaced it with pollutes a 01 volvo wagon.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think anyone can force you to turn in the car. In Pennsylvania there is no diesel emissions testing so Dieselgate cars can be legally driven. If I still had my 2012 JSW (it got totaled in 2013) I would not get rid of it unless it was giving me other problems. Unless the EPA-Police come to get the car I think you will be able to keep it. Run it into the ground as the resale value will be lower than expected if you sell early.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        We don’t have emissions tests here in Oklahoma, either, but I do have an issue with driving a car that pollutes way more than it should. I’m not even a hippie or a greenie, but that’s just environmentally-irresponsible, IMO, if you can avoid it. Mine is the 2015 Golf SportWagen with the EA288, which shouldn’t need to be bought back, so I’ll just let them fix it and go from there…

        Prior to this, I had a 2014 Jetta SportWagen TDI, however.

      • 0 avatar

        even though a state doesn’t require regular emissions monitoring tests, that doesn’t mean they can’t refuse to allow registration of un-remedied cars.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Like I said, it’s probably the cars with the CBEA variant of the EA189 engine, which have the DPF and NOx catalyst as one piece. That would be the Volkswagen Jetta TDI and Jetta SportWagen TDI for 2009 only, and all of the Audi A3 TDI units through 2014.

  • avatar
    See 7 up

    In the meantime, slap the gti drivetrain in the sportwagen since nobody really wants the 1.8tsi, maybe even the an r version too but I settle on the former.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      There is a Golf R SportWagen, or at least VW showed a concept of one. Would it ever make it to the States? Doubt it.

      • 0 avatar
        See 7 up

        Yes, they make a Golf R wagon.
        But cars that are manufactured but not sold in the USA basically don’t exist for me. The fact they exist somewhere else does not make the available offerings more enticing.

        not sure if they make a gti wagon, but given its popularity, and the lack of a tdi (or future tdi sales) a gti wagon would make sense to me (then again, almost all cars I like don’t sell well)

  • avatar

    I’m the current owner of a likely potential buyout car. ’11 Golf TDI 6-speed. I like the car a lot still, but I’d be very interested in a buyout, as I’ve gotten good usage out of the car, and it’s showing its age. It would have to be structured as an advantage to the owner to make it appealing, or to their benefit to take it.

    Didn’t Toyota offer something like 150% of KBB for the rusty Tacoma frame trucks? Basically you didn’t have to take it, but you’d have to be a special kind of stubborn not to.

    I can see VW doing something similar if they want to come out with any goodwill left. Offer a value based on pre-scandal KBB + XX% to tip it in the favor of the owner. An additional “buy a new VW discount” on top of that would likely keep at least a few more butts in VW seats until this fiasco is put in the history books.

  • avatar

    I dont know what I’d do if they wanted to buy back my Touareg TDI. I kinda love it.

  • avatar

    VW should reimburse the current owner of the vehicle every penny they paid for it at the point of purchase including taxes, fees, registration and so on. Treat it like a lemon law repurchase.

    Sure the owner got some use that had economic value, but VW didn’t provide the vehicle it claimed to be providing. Every penny VW got from the original sale should be refunded, and the other costs the buyer had should be considered a modest penalty for VW’s outright fraud.

    If the car was purchased new by the current owner, go back to the original sale. If if was purchased used, then refund based on that transaction.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Kruser: We had a Colt wagon it was… meh. But, perhaps it didn’t have a chance in comparison to the other...
  • Bike: You throw a lot of “facts” around old mate.
  • Bike: You throw a lot of “facts” around old mate.
  • dal20402: “Wages for most white collar jobs have been the same” This is emphatically not true in either...
  • slavuta: I feel he will not get to enjoy his new $$

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber