VOLKSWAGEN 2.0L DIESEL VEHICLE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

This page last reviewed December 16, 2016



Consent Decree frequently asked questions


How much money will California receive under this Consent Decree?

California will receive about $1.2 billion in total. VW must pay into two separate programs. The first provides about $381 million to California for NOx mitigation (the Mitigation Trust). The second will be a zero emission vehicle (ZEV) investment fund (the ZEV Investment Commitment). $800 million dollars from that fund will be invested in California. This money does not address penalties or any claims concerning 3.0-liter diesel vehicles, and does not address any potential criminal liability. Those will be addressed in a separate process.

When will money for mitigation be available for projects?

Within 60 days of the establishment of the Mitigation Trust, Governor Brown will certify a Lead Agency, which can be an agency, department, office, or division to oversee the implementation of Mitigation Trust on behalf of California. Within 120 days of the Mitigation Trust being established, the Governor can request that allocation of California’s $381 million be paid out to California for its use according to the terms set out in Appendix D. The consent decree only allows up to one-third to be paid out during the first year, or up to two-thirds during the first two years.

How will the Mitigation Fund projects be selected?

For the Mitigation Trust, California will undertake a public process to allow members of the Legislature and the public to provide input and comments on which projects identified in Appendix D should be funded by the settlement. How will the Investment Commitment projects be decided? For the ZEV Investment Commitment, approval of the Consent Decree triggers a 100-day window for ARB and VW to meet to discuss ARB’s ideas for the draft California Investment Plan. ARB will host a public process before it meets with VW. VW then has 120 days after the consent decree is approved to submit its draft proposed investment plan for the first 30-month investment cycle to ARB for ARB’s approval. This plan must contain projects totaling at least $200 million dollars, and is expected to invest in ZEV charging and other infrastructure, as well as public outreach. VW will submit an investment plan every 29 months after that, each one covering $200 million dollars in investments until the full $800 million is spent. ARB will take public input and provide ideas and comments to VW on each funding plan. Each plan will only be approved after ARB’s comments are addressed.

What kind of environmental projects will be paid for out of the Mitigation Trust?

To address all past and future excess emissions of NOx from the 2.0-liter cars sold in California under the terms of the Consent Decree, VW must pay about $381 million over a three-year period into a trust for projects to replace older and dirtier heavy duty diesel vehicles and equipment with cleaner vehicles and equipment, including advanced zero- or near-zero technologies. This provides an opportunity to focus reductions of emissions in disadvantaged communities and other communities that were impacted . Californians will have the opportunity for public input on potential projects to be funded with this money. California’s share of the $2.7 billion mitigation fund is proportional to its share of the total number of affected diesel cars.

What is included in the money in the ZEV Investment Commitment?

Under the consent decree, Volkswagen's investments could include zero-emission vehicle fueling and charging infrastructure, brand-neutral consumer awareness campaigns to increase awareness of the zero-emission vehicle market, and projects such as car-sharing programs that will increase access to zero emission vehicles for all consumers in California. These projects will support the next generation of zero emission vehicles that will be sold in California, helping to build the foundation for achieving the State's air quality and climate goals.

Where can I go to comment on the proposed project selection for the Mitigation Trust or ZEV Investment Commitment?

Selection of projects will be determined with input from a public process, including public workshops and comment periods. Information about upcoming workshops will be posted at https://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/vw_info/vw-diesel-info/vw-diesel-info.htm . If you have additional questions about either elements of the mitigation in the Consent Decree, please contact pio@arb.ca.gov.

If you want to learn more about Volkswagen?s ZEV Investment Commitment or submit a proposal, visit www.electrifyamerica.com



What did Volkswagen do?

Between 2009 and 2015, Volkswagen (VW) sold approximately 500,000 2.0 L diesel vehicles equipped with "defeat devices" designed to control emissions during certification and to illegally turn off emissions controls during on-road driving. These vehicles emit up to 40 times more nitrogen oxide (NOx) than EPA and California-compliant levels. NOx is an air pollutant that contributes to the formation of ozone and particulate matter. It can greatly aggravate health problems such as asthma and cardio-pulmonary disease, and is a particularly serious and expensive problem in California.

What is this Partial Consent Decree?

This partial consent decree partially resolves these alleged violations. For more details on the overall national agreement, see http://www.VWcourtsettlement.com.

It is referred to as “partial” because it does not deal with actual penalties against the company. Those will be determined through a separate process.

What does the Partial Consent Decree do?

When final, the partial consent decree (consent decree) provides every vehicle owner a choice on how to handle their vehicle, and fully mitigates all environmental harm associated with VW's use of a defeat device. This consent decree sends a clear message that California's tough vehicle emissions certification program catches cheaters, and that evading California's air quality rules is not only illegal and wrong, but also an expensive and ill-advised business decision. CARB has a stringent vehicle emission certification, compliance, and enforcement program that will only get tougher on cheaters and others who do not strictly adhere to the requirements.


INFORMATION IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED NOTICE TO REGISTER AND/OR SMOG YOUR 2.0 LITER VOLKSWAGEN OR AUDI TDI VEHICLE


I cannot register my VW/Audi 2.0 liter diesel due to a recall notification on my DMV Registration Renewal. What should I do?

A 2014/2015 recall for your vehicle with the recall numbers 23O6/23N4/23N5 was initiated prior to the VW court settlement. This recall in no longer in place as a result of the Consent Decree finalized by the court on October 25, 2016. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) registration hold for your vehicle has been removed. Please see the scenarios below for appropriate registration procedures to receive your current registration and tags.

If you are a VW/Audi 2.0 liter diesel owner whose registration is current and received a recall notification on your Registration Renewal Form for the 2014/15 recall 23O6/23N4/23N5, the registration hold has been lifted. If your notice says you need a smog certificate, please have that with you when you register your vehicle. (If you have questions on why you need a smog check, please see our FAQ below on smog checks.)

You can now:

  • Pay your registration in person at a DMV field office.
  • Pay your registration at a AAA office if you are a AAA member.

If you are a VW/Audi 2.0 liter diesel owner and have already paid for your vehicle registration, but received an Incomplete Registration notice from the DMV for the above recall, you can now:

  • Take the notice into a DMV field office and receive your registration and tags.
  • Call the DMV and have them check your VIN in their database. The DMV will send your registration and tags.
  • Take the notice to a AAA office if you are a AAA member, and start the registration process there. AAA will process your registration.

If you are a VW/Audi 2.0 liter diesel owner and have not yet paid for your vehicle registration fees due to confusion about the 23O6, 23N4, or 23N5 recall notification on your DMV Registration Renewal form, you are subject to late registration fees and/or penalty. The DMV by statue cannot waive these fees. You can now:

  • Pay your registration and your late fees in person at DMV field office.
  • Pay registration and your late fees in person at a AAA office, if you are a member.
I intend to participate in the VW buyback of affected 2.0 liter TDIs later this fall after the Consent Decree is finalized. My registration and smog check are due now. Must I register my car or can I put it into “non-operational status” with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and still be eligible to participate in the future buyback?

This issue is being handled by the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee. Please contact them directly at 1-800-948-2181 or info@vwclasscounsel.com. Their staff is answering inquiries daily.

Other VW related consumer questions

I own one of these cars? What does this mean for me?

Under the consent decree, if you no longer want your car, you may sell it back to VW and receive substantial compensation. If you want to keep your car, you may have your car modified if VW proposes a modification and proves their proposed modification meets stringent criteria established by the governments. Both buyback and modification will substantially reduce future emissions. All owners of affected vehicles will receive compensation. Compensation varies based on your vehicle's age, mileage, and other factors. For more information, please go to http://www.VWcourtsettlement.com.

What vehicles are covered under the consent decree?

The consent decree covers all 2.0L diesel vehicles manufactured by Volkswagen and Audi between 2009 and 2015. These include:

  • VW Jetta Sport Wagen (MY 2009 - 2014)
  • Audi A3 (MY 2010 - 2013, 2015)
  • VW Beetle (MY 2013 - 2015)
  • VW Golf (MY 2010 - 2015)
  • VW Jetta (MY 2009 - 2015)
  • VW Passat (MY 2012 - 2015)
  • VVW Golf Sport Wagen (MY 2015)

The consent decree does not cover 3.0L diesel vehicles manufactured by Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche that the governments allege are also equipped with defeat devices. These vehicles will be addressed later.

For more information on the details of this agreement for Owners, please visit: http://www.VWcourtsettlement.com.

When will the emissions modification become available?

The consent decree provides stringent criteria by which VW may offer an emissions modification. VW has not yet completed the design for the modifications to the satisfaction of CARB or the US EPA. The company has demonstrated through modeling and testing that such a modification is possible. All plans for modification must be approved by the United States and California before being offered to car owners. No modification will be approved if there is doubt about either the environmental integrity of the repairs or impact on vehicle performance.

How will I be contacted about my options?

After the consent decree is approved, VW will contact you regarding the options available so you may decide on your preferred approach. Owners of affected vehicles do not need to do anything now.

Will my car pass a smog check if I get the repair?

No vehicle will fail a smog check because of repairs authorized under this agreement. Assuming a vehicle has been otherwise properly maintained, it will pass a smog check. Vehicles modified under this Consent Decree will receive a sticker notifying anyone performing a smog check that the proper work has been done.

Why do I still need to get a smog check?

The emissions control systems of these vehicles address and limit a broad range of air pollutants. As with all systems on a car, the emission control systems on your vehicle can develop malfunctions. When that happens, it results in excess emission levels of air pollutants, including those emissions besides oxides of nitrogen, the pollutant at issue with the Volkswagen passenger car diesel engines. Such malfunctions can occur at any time, but become more common as vehicles get older and accumulate high mileages. Smog check inspections reduce emissions from vehicles by making sure that any emission-related malfunctions detected by the vehicle's On Board Diagnostic system are repaired. Therefore, continuing to have your vehicle inspected as required is important to ensure any detected malfunctions are repaired. For vehicles that are still covered under the original emission control system warranty, these malfunctions should be repaired under warranty.

If I keep my vehicle and have it repaired will I be able to sell it in future?

Yes. The owner can sell the vehicle subject to the same requirements for selling vehicles not subject to this consent decree.

What happens if I keep my vehicle and choose not to have it repaired?

The consent decree makes it very attractive for vehicle owners to participate in the buyback or keep the vehicle and have it modified. If the owner keeps the vehicle but chooses not to have it modified they can resell it when they choose.

Will the modifications bring my car into compliance?

Because the vehicles were designed around the defeat device, they cannot be brought fully into compliance. However, the consent decree establishes stringent criteria for approving an emissions modification that will reduce emissions from these vehicles by 80% to 90% or more, without any substantial reduction of fuel economy or performance. Per consent decree requirements, VW will provide a warranty for any emissions modification.

Will my car pass a smog check if I get the repair?

No vehicle will fail a smog check because of repairs authorized under this agreement. Assuming a vehicle has been otherwise properly maintained, it will pass a smog check. Vehicles modified under this Consent Decree will receive a sticker notifying anyone providing a smog check that the proper work has been done.

Will the modifications bring my car into compliance?

Because the vehicles were designed around the defeat device, they cannot be brought fully into compliance. However, the consent decree establishes stringent criteria for approving an emissions modification that will reduce emissions from these vehicles by 80% to 90% or more, without any substantial reduction of fuel economy or performance. Per consent decree requirements, VW will provide a warranty for any emissions modification.


emissions reductions due to action


General & Environmental Questions

If the cars will continue to emit more NOx than required after they?re repaired, why are they still being allowed on the road?

Volkswagen knowingly broke the law and lied about it, not the vehicle owners. Therefore, owners are being given as much flexibility as possible in how they choose to handle their individual vehicles. These options are available at no cost to consumers. The Consent Decree also requires VW to fund projects in California amounting to more than one billion dollars to fully mitigate any past and future environmental harm from any and all of these vehicles. In short, the funds will fully mitigate the environmental harm VW is responsible for. This includes accounting for the vehicles that stay on the road after the consent decree is finalized.

Can VW simply resell these cars somewhere else?

The vehicles cannot be exported or resold in the US unless they receive an emissions modification approved by CARB and USEPA under the consent decree. Any future emissions from these cars have been addressed by the funds for mitigation VW must pay.

How does this Consent Decree address environmental harm?

In addition to buyback or modification of most vehicles, the Consent Decree provides more than $1 Billion dollars to California to mitigate all past and future harm caused by VW's actions. This includes $380 million dollars for California in funding for projects to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx, a smog-producing pollutant) by incentivizing clean heavy-duty vehicles and equipment targeted to disadvantaged communities, and $800M in investments to advance California's zero-emissions vehicle programs.

How do these violations affect public health in California?

There are 70,814 2.0L diesel vehicles registered in California that have emitted excess tons of harmful nitrogen oxide emissions beyond levels the vehicles were certified to emit. California has made large strides in cleaning up the air, but VW's cheating was particularly harmful here because in many parts of the state our air quality is still so much worse than anywhere else in the nation: 23 million live within the nation's only severe non-attainment areas for ozone pollution, and 12 million live in areas with nation-leading levels of fine particle pollution. These pollutants cause lung disease, heart disease, and premature death, especially among the most vulnerable populations. To put California on track to ensure healthy air for all, California has adopted the most stringent air quality regulatory and enforcement program in the United States.

Why do you think you can make up for the extra emissions with the mitigation funds VW will set aside for California under the agreement?

Under the consent decree, Volkswagen will spend more than $1 billion dollars in California to reduce NOx emissions. The agreement provides $380 million dollars in new funding to replace older high emitting heavy-duty trucks and equipment with zero and near-zero emissions trucks and equipment. These funds will directly reduce emissions in and near disadvantaged communities.

The agreement also provides $800 million dollars in investments designed to support California’s nation-leading zero emissions vehicle program. These investments are above and beyond any regulatory requirements in California, and will reduce emissions and expand the ZEV market by providing ZEV infrastructure, and improving access to ZEVs for all Californians.

How can you be sure VW will, in fact, buyback or modify these cars?

VW is obligated under the consent decree to buyback or modify no less than 85 percent of the affected vehicles within two years to hit the necessary emissions reductions. That's 85 percent of cars in all other states, and 85 percent of the affected cars in California.

If the company fails to accomplish this goal, California will receive an extra $13 million dollars for each percentage point VW comes up short which in turn will be used to invest in clean technologies to reduce emissions of NOx.

Will the money for mitigating environmental harm be used to buy back cars?

No. Buybacks and repairs will be an additional cost for VW above and beyond the payment for mitigating the environmental harm.

When will money for mitigation be available for projects?

Within 30 days of the date the consent decree is effective Governor Brown will name an agency as the trustee to oversee the process for managing a mitigation plan for the $380 million dollars in mitigation funding. That process should be established and projects identified for funding within six months after the trustee is named.

How will these projects be decided?

For the $380 million dollars in mitigation funding, California will solicit projects in an open and transparent process, with ranking of each proposed project using strictly defined metrics to determine which will achieve both the goals of the program and the highest levels of NOx reductions. Chosen projects, and the results of the projects, will be made available to the public in regular reports and will include extensive follow-up.

For the $800 million dollars in ZEV investments, California will advise Volkswagen in the development of their investment plans. VW will then submit investment plans every 30 months, covering $200 million dollars in investments in each plan until the full funding level is expended. ARB will provide comments on each funding plan and will approve each plan only after those comments are addressed.

What is included in the money to expand the market for Zero-Emission Vehicles?

Under the consent decree, Volkswagen's investments will include zero emission vehicle fueling infrastructure, consumer awareness campaigns to increase the zero emission vehicle market, and projects such as car sharing programs that will increase access to zero emission vehicles for all consumers in California. These projects will support the next generation of zero emission vehicles that will be sold in California, helping to build the foundation for achieving the State's air quality and climate goals.

Do I have a chance to comment on the proposed agreements?

The thirty-day public comment period on ARB and U.S. EPA's proposed Partial Consent Decree ended on August 5, 2016. There is an additional comment period on the Class Acton Settlement for plaintiffs who are part of the class action lawsuit on behalf of vehicle owners and lessees. See https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decree/us-v-volkswagen-group-america-et-al

I have ideas about how the money in the VW settlement can be spent. Where do I send them?

The partial consent decree will not be final until the fall of 2016. At that point the Governor will appoint an agency to receive the $384 million in the Mitigation Fund that California is receiving, and a process for expenditures will be established. The ZEV Investment commitment is a separate fund under the Consent Decree and is related to developing the infrastructure and outreach of ZEVs and the ZEV market. Please see Appendix C for more information. (https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decree/us-v-volkswagen-group-america-et-al pages 147-181). If you have additional questions about either fund, please contact pio@arb.ca.gov.

Why do I still need to get a smog check?

Modern smog checks use information stored in a vehicle?s on-board diagnostic (OBD) system to detect excess emissions, and to check the condition of the vehicle's emissions control equipment. The 2.0 liter diesels, as currently configured, cannot detect the actual NOx level. But the OBD system continues to detect actual levels of other pollutants (hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide (CO)), and a visual smoke check can identify particulate matter (PM). The smog check ensures that the equipment related to these elements of your car's operation is in proper working order.

What are the recent and next steps regarding the Consent Decree?

The proposed Partial Consent Decree was presented to the court on June 28, 2016.

  • On July 26, the court held the first hearing on the Class Action Settlement (for lawsuits brought against VW by private parties related to VW?s violations) and preliminarily approved the proposed agreement.
  • On August 5, 2016, the formal comment period on ARB and U.S. EPA?s proposed Partial Consent Decree required under the Clean Air Act closes.
  • On Sept 16, 2016, the comment period for the Class Acton Settlement closed.
  • Notification of the full range of consumer options will take place once the Consent Decree is finalized by the court. This is expected in Fall 2016.



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