Buyback or Fix: VW Diesel Owners Weigh in on Settlement

A US federal judge has finally approved a record high settlement for the Volkswagen emissions scandal, with the German automaker to spend $14.7 billion remedying the situation. More than 400,000 affected U.S. owners are being given two options: take a buyback from VW or wait for the EPA to approve a fix. We asked Vortex’s TDI owners what they thought to get an idea of how the people who are actually being affected by the agreement feel.

The first option for owners is the buyback, in which VW will buy back the affected vehicles from owners at fair price, based on the age of the vehicle and how far it has been driven.

Jessica Jones, owner of a 2010 Golf TDI, is jumping at the buyback opportunity. “I’m going to be the first one in line to buy a new ‘fixed’ TDI,” she said. Jones is choosing the buyback option because VW is going to pay off her lien. She adds, though, that she hopes to get a new VW after everything is said and done. It’s her belief that the situation is being blown way out of proportion and feels that true TDI and VW enthusiasts share her perspective. She also thinks the EPA is trying to make an example out of VW.

VW Golf 6

But not every TDI owner considering the buyback is so enthusiastic about the company after hearing the details of the settlement.

“I do feel betrayed,” said Jetta TDI owner April Andrews. “I think it’s a pretty crappy business practice and it seriously makes me wonder whether or not I would buy another VW product,” she said.

From her perspective, it seems as if VW is not really sorry for the scandal, except for the fact they got caught. “You’ve got to figure that it was a whole number of people that are employed by them that knew what they were doing.”

“But it’s tough because I love my VW and drive my vehicle every day… I’m at about 120 thousand kilometers [80 thousand miles] or so. I don’t know if that’s a lot but I intended to drive the car into the ground.”

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Some TDI drivers didn’t even have the time to form that relationship with their cars, though. Jeff Kantorowski is a long-time VW customer and found out about the scandal within days of leasing his 2015 Sportwagen SEL.

“The new car thrill lasted about a week, and then the news of the scandal broke, and it caused a lot of doubt and questions in my mind,” he said. Kantorowski noted he loves almost everything about the car, but said, “Honestly, they committed fraud. They were promoting something that wasn’t as advertised. I distinctly remember seeing the big banners in the dealership saying, ‘Clean Diesel’… I felt deceived.”

Ultimately, Kantorowski said that he would wait to see if he could get his Sportwagen “fixed.” Volkswagen is confident that they can find a way to modify the powertrain and exhaust free of charge to keep the cars on the road. Similar repairs have been applied to more than a million vehicles in Europe, but emissions  standards were less strict there. The fix option, though, hinges on the modifications being is approved by the EPA. So far none has been, but on November 11, VW is expected to propose another fix. Until then, though, TDI owners don’t need to make a decision about what to do.

Despite all the time and effort that have gone into the agreement, the result is still somewhat unsatisfying. Although Kantarowski admits that he was encouraged to buy his TDI because of the “clean diesel” campaign, he believes the EPA is being too harsh. “I see so many big, full-sized pickup trucks around with eight-cylinder engines. The thought in my mind is that [I’d be] turning in my little four-cylinder TDI that’s not meeting extremely strict emissions, and [I’d] go out and get a Ford F-250 Powerstroke, eight-cylinder diesel that doesn’t have to meet the same emissions standards, of which there are millions on the road, and that’s OK. But my little four-cylinder is against the law.”

This story first appeared on autoguide.com

[Mk5 Golf image by Michel de VriesCC BY-SA 3.0]