By on February 7, 2016

Kenneth Feinberg, Generous Solution Quote

Kenneth Feinberg, the man behind Volkswagen’s claims fund, stated American VW TDI customers should expect an offer that will make them very happy in an interview published this weekend.

When asked by Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (via Reuters) what he will offer the more than 500,000 Americans who own dirty diesels, he replied, “I can promise that there will be a generous solution.”

What that solution will be is anyone’s guess, including Feinberg’s.

“The jury is still out, and at the moment all options are up for debate: cash payments, buybacks, repairs, replacements with new cars,” he said.

The solution will likely include a mix of measures as there are different generations of the EA189 engine at the center of the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal

Late last year, Volkswagen began its Goodwill Package program to help smooth over concerns in the short term. At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Volkswagen Group of American CEO Michael Horn announced that the company’s Goodwill Package program would be extended to owners of 3-liter diesel vehicles, and that some 265,000 owners had taken Volkswagen up on the offer to date.

For its part, Audi is offering a carbon copy of Volkswagen’s 2-liter Goodwill Package program, but has not extended that offer to 3-liter vehicles. Neither has Porsche.

Final measures, above and beyond the Goodwill Package program, are dependant on future decisions by the Environmental Protection Agency, said Feinberg.

“My hands are tied while VW and the authorities resolve their differences. The original time frame could be delayed.”

However, those looking for compensation due to possible effects on their health aren’t likely to get much from the Feinberg administered fund.

“I have not decided yet, but I am inclined not to accept such claims and to tell people they should sue if they want,” he said.



[Photo source: Flickr/Miller Center]

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35 Comments on “Feinberg: Volkswagen Will Offer ‘Generous Solution’ to U.S. Customers...”

  • avatar

    “replacements with new cars”

    I suppose they’d have to be Volkswagens. Woot.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Why replace the cars at all?

      They are perfectly reliable.

      Leave the cars as they are.

      • 0 avatar

        Big Al: I know you can’t get your head around this, but even though there are dirtier older diesels on the road, they complied with the regulations in place at the time they were released. These cars don’t, and without significant modification, never will. That is the distinct difference. The amount of NOx released compared to older vehicles is completely irrelevant. Learn how regulations work.

        Reliability has absolutely zero to do with it as well. If you’re saying cars with reduced reliability shouldn’t be on the road then I guess we can take about every Mk4 Jetta that has had the CEL on for most of it’s life off the road too. There is not a single person I know with one that doesn’t have their dash lit up like an Xmas tree because of misc electronic issues. Those cars still complied and therefore remain 100% legal, as they should.

        At the same time the customers shouldn’t be the ones paying for VWs mess. So the unfixable should be removed and replaced at VWs expense and the others fixed to comply. Full-stop.

  • avatar


    The cheapest solution, and the best one for public perception, would have been to buy every one of them back on day one. When you add together the cost of whatever it is they’re going to do and whatever legal fees they have acquired – or are going to acquire – it would have been their best solution.

    They might even be talking about record sales right now.

    • 0 avatar

      We’re talking a relatively small number of TDIs in a relatively unimportant market for VW.

      VW has to be very careful since the world is waiting and watching for what they end up doing for US TDI actual owners.

      So what happens when the rest of the world demands the same?

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      I would just leave the current VW diesels as they are. Do nothing regarding the vehicles and just fine VAG/VW.

      Really, if you are caught speeding increasing risk to others’ does the government waste lots of time an money in litigation against you?

      This is not much different. VW violated certain regulatory requirments, fine them according to their profits. Even make the fine worth the value of VAGs total profits.

      How many millions of dollars is wasted with all of this unnecessary administration because everyone is so hell bent on litigation.

      I can’t believe how much blood people want when it is uncalled for.

      I think let it be and just move forward.

      • 0 avatar

        I really do not think the EPA would allow that, what your really saying to car companies is keep on cheating we will take our chances, no VW either has to fix them or they have to go. I understand that there are “dirty” cars on US roads right now as there are many older diesel who pollute more and I am sure other cars that pollute more but VW has to come up with a fix and make right by the owners, who bought their cars.

      • 0 avatar

        One can decide not to speed; these cars will continue to pollute as long as they are on the road.The EPA can hardly take a position that VW committed deliberate fraud and knowingly sold cars that grossly exceeded limits but, for the right amount of money we can live with it.

        That being said, there is probably some negotiation going on behind the scene to the effect of “If we do X for the owners, what can we get the fines down to?”

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Big Al, Volkswagen designed pollution control equipment that does something explicitly prohibited by EPA regulations that causes the nitrogen oxides emissions to exceed the regulatory standard by an order of magnitude. The EPA is going to both collect a big fine and force Volkswagen to either make the cars compliant or buy them back. The fine will be rather large because the violation was unusually blatant and Volkswagen made the stupid move of attempting to deceive the EPA with an ineffective recall a year before the scandal became public.

        Volkswagen will most likely issue a recall to modify the newer, more valuable, models like the Passat that have urea injection hardware already installed. Similar software changes probably get new Volkswagen TDI models through EPA certification. In contrast, I wouldn’t be surprised if Volkswagen eventually buys back older Jetta TDI models after as much delay as possible. Let the non-DEF cars depreciate and avoid setting a precedent for buybacks in other markets.

        • 0 avatar

          I think the automotive industry needs to lobby real hard to remove government control of emissions standards. Other industries have lobbied against deregulation, why not the automotive industry?

          A nonprofit organization comprised of professionals *in the business of automotive engineering* (rather than fulfilling agendas) can work together to create attainable standards. That’s the way it should be done.

          I know that there are a lot of people who could care less about the business side of things, but it should still be of concern to everyone regardless. We already have a whole bunch of ridiculousness such as start-stop engines (I see premature engine failure!) and diesel emissions systems that are so unreliable and costly to fix or maintain.

          The system we have right now is literally a game of limbo. As with a lot of other areas in government, it is comprised of a bunch absolutist, arbitrary activists disguised as regulators.

    • 0 avatar

      Be glad that at least VW tries to come up with some offer to U.S. customers. VW does not have to, and will not toward European customers. Why is that? The simple fact that the EU is lenient when it comes to meeting emission standards means that EU customers barely have a basis to make a stand.

  • avatar

    I don’t know why VW would buyback the newer models with urea systems already installed. Just re-program my 2015 GSW with the software that passed the EPA test, and if I don’t like the change in power/mpg/DEF usage, I’ll get the car addressed on my own.

    My car used 2 gallons of DEF in the first 10k miles. Even if that amount doubles, It cost me an extra $15.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      They most likely aren’t going to buy back the newer cars with the EA288, which have DEF systems installed.

      And I’m with you. It cost me $9 to fill up my Golf SportWagen’s DEF reservoir at a truck stop on the way to California. So I’m not terribly concerned about the car using more DEF.

    • 0 avatar

      Show me the vehicle which legitimately passed the EPA test.

      You still can’t buy a 2016 VW diesel in the US because it failed.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Feinberg’s statement seems reasonable and hopeful, finally.

    The health effects are statistically calculable and meaningful, but I doubt any plaintiff will be able to prove their specific health problems are attributable to a TDI.

    • 0 avatar

      Wait a minute. There are only two possibilities here. Mr. F. either 1) knows specifically what will be offered or 2)does not know at all. But why not specify what the “get well” offer is, unless the F man doesn’t know? If he doesn’t know, then what the hell is he talking about? How does he know it will be “generous” If he does know, why is he not telling us? Got a problem with this solution teaser and this “generous” BSing.

  • avatar

    “Their will be a generous solution” [for our executives]. As far as making things right for the owners of our defective, misengineered cars, “my hands are tied!”

  • avatar

    “My hands are tied while VW and the authorities resolve their differences.”

    Yet Feinberg is doing a Neville Chamberlain paper-waving act at this early date by promising satisfaction for each affected owner?

    That seems dumb but Feinberg seems brilliant so what’s up?

    • 0 avatar

      Because there is likely a money component in addition to a technical component. The technical component is the part that is being held up.

      • 0 avatar

        Won’t the technical component finally adjudicated hugely impact the money component? If Feinberg can at this early stage be sure of a monetary commitment from VW wouldn’t that imply buy-back, the only monetary decision that could be independent of the eventual tech fix?

        • 0 avatar

          One of VW’s challenges is to get the feds to accept a repair compromise that probably won’t reduce NOx to levels that are legal in the US. I doubt that there is any practical way to retrofit hardware — not just a reflash, but actual parts that need to be installed — that would get the cars to meet the standard. (This may not be the case in the EU, where allowable NOx levels are much higher.)

    • 0 avatar

      This has been going on for 21 months. At this point, there’s nothing “early” about it.

      • 0 avatar

        A lot of people said things like things like that in the second summer of the Civil War. Still had a ways to go.

        And “early” or no, Feinberg still can’t have much idea of VW’s impending liability and how it would affect their generosity toward individual owners.

        • 0 avatar

          Don’t confuse the lengthiness of the process with this being early.

          VW has spent the last 21 months stalling and haggling. That’s not a trivial amount of time. While that has probably resulted in a better outcome for VW than it would have otherwise had, it is also clear that Uncle Sam is getting impatient and testy, and is ready to get medieval on VW’s backside.

          At this point, it is in VW’s best interests to start cutting deals, otherwise the outcome would be even worse.

          • 0 avatar

            “Uncle Sam is getting impatient and testy, and is ready to get medieval on VW’s backside”

            Nicely phrased and exactly my point. How can Feinberg promise any generosity under these worsening circumstances?

          • 0 avatar

            Because the time for haggling with Uncle is over. At this point, it makes sense to shift gears (no pun intended) and go from haggling into Santa Claus mode.

            I keep telling TTAC to cover this, but the Obama administration has really changed how the government deals with automakers. NHTSA used to just write reports and issue the occasional modest penalty; now, they issue eight-figure fines and create a lot of bad press for the automakers when they screw up.

            The EPA won’t bankrupt VW, but it will use this a warning to other OEMs to avoid following in VW’s footsteps. You can bet that every other automaker is double checking to make sure that they haven’t done anything that would put them in this position.

  • avatar

    At least we’re starting to hear SOMETHING out of VW on this.

  • avatar

    My question is: Will these remedies apply to first-owners only? Or can I run out and buy some beater POS VW and turn it in for a new one two months later?

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I am most interested in you question as well.

      I drive a lot of miles…I have been watching the prices on line here locally. It is hard for me to pass up a 30k car with all the options and 24k miles listed for 16.5k. With some research I find that car has been ‘sitting’ on said dealers lot for months. Seems like the first 15k takes it.
      Why not pick one up and pound some miles on it for cheap with the biggest risk being VW calls me up one day and says drop it off here and pick up your check…

    • 0 avatar

      My guess is that you would have to show ownership prior to the scandal happening for X compensation, and if you bought the car post scandal or post compensation release date you get Y compensation. Just like the ‘Goodwill Package’ you had to own the car prior to the scandal to be eligible.

      That said regardless of when you bought the car, ALL of the TDIs are non-compliant and will need something.

      • 0 avatar

        Pretty sure you had to own it before the news broke on September 18 since those are the people that unknowingly bought cars that were illegal according to the EPA/CARB.

    • 0 avatar

      As others have noted, I would imagine it will be administered similar to the current Goodwill program, in that you had to prove ownership of the vehicle prior to the scandal news breaking in September 2015.

      Regardless of point of purchase (new or used), I’d imagine the negotiation will be based on some pre-scandal KBB + XX% to determine value of buyback offer.

      The XX% will have to be the “generous” portion he is referring to. I also think it’s a reasonable PR move to define the offer yourself. It’s generous because he says so… so if you’re not happy with it, they can define you as being unreasonable.

  • avatar

    Hook me up, Kenny!

    I’m getting sick of my car doing re-gens seemingly every time I put it in the garage. Have to leave the door open so the garage doesn’t smell like burnt rubber. And I haven’t even had the 23o6 campaign done, which apparently makes the cars re-gen about once per day.

    I’ll gladly take either original purchase price to go buy something else or a new TSI Golf wagon.

  • avatar

    VW should hire me. I have master plan to make their problems go away and make them the largest automaker in the US.

    1. Create an organization called NDA(National Diesel Association)
    2. Claim that the liberals, EPA, Govt, and White House wants to ban TDI diesels
    3. Watch TDI sales soar with every mouth breathing m0r0n beating on VW dealership doors to buy a diesel.
    4. VW will soon be the largest automaker in America
    5. To keep the sales momentum going after a year, have a few paid congressmen say that the liberals and the govt wants to forcefully take your TDIs away.
    6. Everyone who bought a TDI will buy a second one
    7. Repeat the above talking points every time a TDI owner runs over employees at the inspection center for failing his car.
    8. Now every TDI owner who already owns two cars will run out to buy a third one…

    It worked for guns. I can’t see why it wouldn’t work for diesels.

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