As an industry compliance expert tried to explain how complicated it might be to unwind installment contracts and leases, NADA Used Car Guide confirmed that its values are being used to generate the figures associated with the Volkswagen diesel emissions settlement announced on Tuesday. The data denotes how much the OEM will pay owners to buy back vehicles or the additional cash payment beyond the automaker subsidizing the cost of regulator-approved modifications.
Depending on what the vehicle owner decides to do, that payment can range from $5,100 to someone who keeps and has repairs done on a 2009 VW Jetta Sedan TDI or Jetta SportsWagen TDI to $44,176 to an individual who elects for the OEM to buy back a 2015 Audi A3 TDI Prestige. Regulators explained the estimates are based on these vehicles’ retail value as of September 2015 — just prior to the public disclosure of the emissions issue.
For vehicle lessees, the settlement payment can range from $2,634 for someone leasing a 2011 VW Jetta Sedan TDI to $4,899 for the lease holder of a 2015 Audi A3 TDI Prestige, according to a document NADA Used Car Guide sent to Auto Remarketing on Tuesday afternoon.
The complete payment rundown for vehicle owners and lessees involved in this matter can be viewed here.
No matter what the consumer chooses, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy shared a message that ought to resonate with used-car managers in the dealership world as well as auction managers in the wholesale space.
“Volkswagen is required with the cars they bring back to actually fix them according to a fix that EPA would approve to scrap them. There’s also in here the encouragement for the recycling of the scrap that can be reused,” McCarthy said when she and representatives from the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department announced the settlement with VW on Tuesday morning.
“These are not going to be shipped elsewhere in their current form. This is about taking care of the air pollution that was emitted here in the U.S., but we’re not shipping that air pollution elsewhere,” McCarthy continued.
While the settlement arrived Tuesday as mandated by a U.S. District Court judge, VW had yet to finalize a way to repair nearly 500,000 units with 2.0 liter diesel engines from the 2009 through 2015 model years. According to the settlement, the OEM has until the end of the year to craft the repair.
“We are hopeful that within a six-month window we will have a determination that a fix is possible,” McCarthy said. “If one comes along at any point in time … but really consumers have until May of 2018 to make choices. This is a very big task that Volkswagen is taking on. Individuals will be able to make a decision early on if they want, right after the settlement is effective. But we will also have opportunities for them to think about it and to see if they want the fix instead.
“This is all about consumer choice and making sure they have the time and making sure Volkswagen is meeting their responsibilities to provide the opportunity for a buyback, a lease termination or to get a fix in place that EPA has set a standard for that will be very rigorous. We’re working through those issues now,” she went on to say.
If the vehicle owner doesn’t choose to have it repaired, the challenge turns to VW Credit or the finance company that holds the installment contract or lease to be involved in settling the matters. Auto Remarketing reached out to compliance expert Randy Henrick, who indicated that how the financing-related process is going to unfold remains unclear.
“If you unwind the contracts — as opposed to giving the consumers a cash payment for the reduced value of the vehicle — presumably the customer will have to surrender the vehicle,” said Henrick, who was Dealertrack’s regulatory and compliance counsel for 12 years and now conducts industry consulting at www.autodealercompliance.net.
“The credit reporting would have to indicate an early payoff; nothing adverse to the consumer,” he continued.
“I think the hard part is going to be dealing with all those vehicles and vehicle owners,” Henrick went on to say. “Not sure how lessees and people who sold or traded in their vehicles before (or after) September 2015 are going to be affected. The government will not want these vehicles on the road, so this is just the beginning with a lot of uncertainties.
“I think despite VW’s efforts, it is only the tip of the iceberg,” Henrick added.
That iceberg also includes more significant challenges for Volkswagen to clear. Federal officials added the settlements announced on Tuesday do not resolve pending claims for civil penalties or any claims concerning 3.0 liter diesel vehicles, nor do they address any potential criminal liability.
“I can assure you that our criminal investigation remains active and ongoing. We will follow the facts wherever they go and we will determine whether to bring criminal charges against any companies or individual wrongdoers,” Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said.
The complete session featuring DOJ, EPA and FTC officials can be viewed in the window at the top of this page or by going here.