NASHVILLE — As part of the $15 billion-plus national settlement over its auto emissions-cheating scandal, Volkswagen will implement a restitution program for Tennesseans who own or lease 11,448 affected VW and Audi models affected, state Attorney General Herbert Slatery said Tuesday.
Tennessee government, meanwhile, will receive $12.59 million as part of the $570 million going to states nationwide, according to Slatery and the state's Division of Consumer Affairs.
That's for repeated violations of state consumer laws sold or leased in Tennessee by VW, which produces the Passat at its Chattanooga plant.
Officials say the company ran afoul of state laws prohibiting unfair or deceptive trade practices by marketing, selling and leasing diesel vehicles equipped with illegal and undisclosed "defeat device" software.
"Our primary objective was to make sure consumers were compensated, as they should be," Slatery said in a news release. "When a company exploits its own customers and misleads regulators the way Volkswagen did, it should be penalized."
Slatery called the settlement a "stiff but reasonable penalty for Volkswagen's deception and most importantly, it is a fair result for consumers."
The agreement is part of a series of state and federal settlements. VW agreed to either buy back or repair the VW and Audi 2.0-liter diesel vehicles, although it hasn't yet developed a fix for the problem. Owners will also receive payments of $5,100 to $10,000, depending on the age of their vehicles.
The settlement bars Volkswagen from engaging in future unfair or deceptive acts and practices in connection with its dealings with consumers and regulators.
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, meanwhile, says 17,157 VW and Audi models with the emissions-cheating device were sold in in his state from 2009 to 2015. Georgia government will see $18.87 million in the settlement.
"Volkswagen's deliberate circumvention of federal emission standards deceived consumers," Olens said. "This settlement brings justice to affected Georgia consumers."
Tennessee and Georgia consumers account for 28,605 of the questioned vehicles sold and the two states are collectively getting some $31.5 million in fines from the German auto manufacturer.
The coordinated settlements resolve consumer protection claims raised by a multi-state coalition of State Attorneys General co-led by attorneys general in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington.
Thirty-seven other states and jurisdictions joined the six leading states in the action against Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Porsche AG and Porsche Cars, North America, Inc. All are collectively referred to as Volkswagen.
Settlements also resolve actions against Volkswagen brought by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, California and car owners in private class action suits.
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