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Compensation To VW Owners Will Include Loss Of Resale Value

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All right. We have an update this morning on that Volkswagen emissions scandal. Company officials are describing progress in internal and external investigations of this scandal that involved 11 million of Volkswagen's diesel vehicles. Those vehicles were outfitted with software that allowed them to cheat on emissions tests. NPR's John Ydstie joins us to turn talk about what we're learning. John, good morning.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: Hi, David.

GREENE: So what's the news here today?

YDSTIE: Well, the big news is compensation. VW officials repeated again and again that regaining the trust of their customers is their number one task. And in that regard, they said that owners of the cars will receive compensation for the loss of resale value of the vehicles. That'll be part of a compensation package. No other details on exactly what VW has proposed to fix the U.S. vehicles - bring them into emissions compliance in the U.S. Matthias Muller, the CEO of VW, said that the company is still in talks with the EPA and California authorities over the company's proposed fix. He suggested those talks won't be concluded for several more weeks.

GREENE: Because the scandal involved, I mean, a lot of vehicles in the United States and cheating on emissions standards, but also millions of VW diesel vehicles in Europe, as well, with the same software, right? What do we know about those vehicles?

YDSTIE: Yeah. In Europe, there was a much more definitive answer from VW officials. Europe's nitrogen oxide emission requirements are less stringent than in the U.S. And Muller said that the fix for Europe, which involved software and a relatively minor hardware fix, has been approved, and it will be complete by the end of 2016.

GREENE: So are officials at VW saying anything about how this cheating actually came about?

YDSTIE: Yes, for the first time, VW officials outlined what they believe happened. And it aligns with what many news outlets, including NPR, reported. They said started with a decision to launch this major diesel car campaign in the U.S. But VW developers couldn't figure out how to meet U.S. emissions standards within the timeline and budget they'd been given, so they developed this software defeat device. Then later, they developed technology to make the engine cleaner by adding a liquid called AdBlue to the exhaust. But it wasn't implemented because it would have required owners of the cars to bring their cars in for maintenance more often. They thought that would put customers off. So VW officials continued to maintain the whole plot was hatched and closely held among a small group of engineers. We'll see if that holds up as the investigation goes forward.

GREENE: All right. NPR's John Ydstie. John, thanks a lot.

YDSTIE: You're welcome, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

John Ydstie has covered the economy, Wall Street, and the Federal Reserve at NPR for nearly three decades. Over the years, NPR has also employed Ydstie's reporting skills to cover major stories like the aftermath of Sept. 11, Hurricane Katrina, the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. He was a lead reporter in NPR's coverage of the global financial crisis and the Great Recession, as well as the network's coverage of President Trump's economic policies. Ydstie has also been a guest host on the NPR news programs Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. Ydstie stepped back from full-time reporting in late 2018, but plans to continue to contribute to NPR through part-time assignments and work on special projects.
David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.