Volkswagen announced this week a record $14.7 billion settlement with states and consumers – including the owners of 3,630 cars in Maine – over loading its diesel cars with illegal software to defeat emissions tests. VW dealers, however, are still waiting to hear what the carmaker will do for them.

Bill Sowles, the owner of Morong Falmouth, has 45 VW diesels on his lot that he’s barred from selling.

“That’s a good question,” Sowles said when asked how VW plans to handle cars still held by dealers. “They have not addressed that. They have addressed the consumer issues. We’re waiting to hear what they will do for us.”

In announcing the settlement this week, VW said owners of 2009-2015 model year cars will be offered a chance to sell back their vehicles to VW at their value as of last September, when the scandal came to light and VW admitted to the wrongdoing, or have them fixed at VW’s expense. Models covered vary by year, but include Volkswagen’s diesel V4 Beetles, Golfs, Jettas and Passats and Audi A3s.

All owners of the affected vehicles, whether they sell back the cars or keep them and opt to have VW fix the problems, also will get payments of at least $5,100 and up to more than $10,000 as compensation. Those who leased the cars will be able to terminate their leases for free and get a payment that’s expected to be about half of the cash payment that owners will get.

According to the Maine Attorney General’s office, nearly 4,000 of the roughly 475,000 affected cars in the U.S. were sold in Maine. Owners can go to and enter their car’s vehicle identification number to determine if they are covered by the settlement and get an estimate of the buyback price and compensation package.


According to the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles, 3,630 of the four-cylinder diesel cars were registered in Maine as of September 2015.

VW also agreed to set up a $2.7 billion national fund for programs to reduce car emissions. Maine will be eligible for about $20 million of that, with the funds going to projects that will be determined by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The state also will receive $3.6 million for repeated violations of state consumer protection laws. That money will be used for ongoing consumer protection efforts, said Timothy Feeley, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office.

“Volkswagen groomed an image to lead customers to believe they were making a purchase that was environmentally sound,” Maine Attorney General Janet Mills said in a statement Thursday. “It turns out their ‘clean diesel’ technology was anything but.”

A federal judge is expected to approve the civil settlement in late July, but VW still faces possible criminal charges over the scandal.

The buyback, fix and compensation program is expected to begin as soon as November.

Federal regulators said the cars had “defeat devices” that activated most of the emissions controls when software sensed that the cars were undergoing emissions tests. When the cars weren’t being tested, federal Environmental Protection Administration officials said, the emissions controls were reduced or turned off to enhance performance and mileage and the cars emitted excess nitrogen oxide pollutants.


Sowles said affected Volkswagen owners will be expected to deal with Volkswagen directly over financial details, but the affected cars from southern Maine owners will probably end up at his dealership for fixes, although the specifics of the repairs have yet to be worked out.

He said the software fix on programs that were designed to help the cars pass emissions tests is expected to be available this year. Any equipment changes aren’t expected to be ironed out until early 2017, Sowles said.

He said his dealership is expected to have the option to purchase, from VW, cars that have been bought back, and then resell them after fixes are made. Any cars that the dealership declines to buy will go back to VW after the fixes are made, he said, and will likely be sold at auctions by Volkswagen.

Sowles said some of his customers already have indicated they’d like to buy the repaired cars once they’re available, depending on the prices and the details of the fix.

Morong will be paid by VW to make the fixes, Sowles said, but beyond that, details of compensation for dealers have yet to be worked out.

“They really are going to have to come to the table” to compensate dealers, he said, and any arrangement is expected to include funding of special deals on those cars that are bought back and re-sold by dealers.

Sowles said sales at his dealership haven’t suffered as a result of the scandal – outside of the cars he’s barred from selling. Rather, he said he has seen an uptick in sales of gasoline-powered cars because so many diesels have been unavailable.


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