Volkswagen agrees to pay US$69 million to settle New Jersey emissions suits

vw2WASHINGTON: Volkswagen AG confirmed on Tuesday it has agreed to pay US$69 million to settle New Jersey state diesel emissions claims, one of the last major outstanding diesel legal issues the German automaker faced in the United States.

VW has previously agreed to spend more than US$750 million to resolve various state environmental and consumer claims. In total, VW has agreed to spend up to US$25 billion in the United States to address claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers and offered to buy back about 500,000 polluting US vehicles.

New Jersey’s attorney general and the automaker confirmed the cases had been settled in a court filing on Tuesday. New Jersey had said previously that VW could have faced maximum penalties of more than US$1.2 billion in the state.

“Volkswagen’s agreement with New Jersey resolves one of the most significant remaining legal exposures related to the diesel matter in the United States. It fully settles the state’s legacy consumer and environmental claims and is another important step forward for our company and our shareholders,” VW spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said Tuesday.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said the state received roughly one-and-a-half times per vehicle the amount paid any other state settling with VW for deceptive practices.

“The company put market share ahead of integrity and profit ahead of lawful compliance, and we held them accountable,” Christie said in a statement.

In March, VW agreed to pay US$157 million to settle environmental claims from 10 other US states. In 2016, the German automaker reached a US$603 million consumer fraud settlement with 44 US states, also excluding New Jersey.

The settlement with 10 US states required Volkswagen to offer at least three new electric vehicles in those states by 2020, including two SUVs. VW agreed in December 2016 to offer the vehicles in California in the same time frame.

In April, Volkswagen, which admitted to circumventing the emissions control system in US diesel vehicles for vehicles sold since 2009, was sentenced to three years probation after pleading guilty to three felony counts and paid US$4.3 billion in federal penalties.

Last month, US and California regulators approved a fix for about 38,000 VW 3.0-liter vehicles with potential excess emissions.

The company also said last month it booked 2.6 billion euros in the three months ended Sept. 30 to fix diesel engines in the United States, confirming an announcement last month that will raise total provisions for its Dieselgate scandal to 25.1 billion euros.