In the largest auto scandal settlement in U.S. history, a federal judge has approved a $14.7 billion settlement over the Volkswagen diesel emissions cheating scandal. The payouts include buybacks for impacted vehicles and cash compensation to U.S. car owners. Volkswagen has admitted to rigging some 11 million vehicles worldwide. U.S. regulators say Volkswagen vehicles were emitting up to 40 times more pollution than standards allow.  The German automaker said it would begin buying back polluting cars in mid-November.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco signed off on VW’s settlement with federal and California regulators and the owners of the 475,000 polluting diesel vehicles in a pivotal moment for the world’s No. 2 automaker as it tries to move past a scandal that has engulfed it for more than a year.

Breyer turned away objections from car owners who thought the settlement did not provide enough money, saying it “adequately and fairly compensates” them. Owners will get the pre-scandal “trade in” value of the vehicle and $5,100 to $10,000 in additional compensation.  “Given the risks of prolonged litigation, the immediate settlement of this matter is far preferable,” Breyer wrote.

VW admitted in September 2015 to installing secret software in its diesel cars to cheat exhaust emissions tests and make them appear cleaner in testing than they really were.  The vehicles emitted up to 40 times the legally allowable pollution levels.

Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller told reporters in Berlin that Breyer’s approval was “an important milestone for us on the way towards clearing up the problem that we caused some time ago.” Hinrich Woebcken, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, pledged to carry out the terms “as seamlessly as possible.”

The settlement was reached with the U.S. Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission, the state of California and vehicle owners who had filed a class action lawsuit against VW. Volkswagen has admitted to misleading regulators and still faces an ongoing criminal investigation.

Volkswagen has agreed to date to spend up to $16.5 billion in connection with the scandal, including payments to dealers, states and attorneys for owners. The settlement covers 2.0-liter polluting diesel Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Passat and Audi A3 cars from the 2009 through 2015 model years. Up to 490,000 people will take part in the settlement because some vehicles had multiple owners.  VW has hired 900 people, including one to be stationed at each dealership, to handle buybacks.

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