HERNDON, Virginia – Volkswagen of America took a major step toward handling consumer claims resulting from its diesel-emissions scandal on Thursday by hiring a well-known victim-compensation expert.
The German automaker has retained Kenneth R. Feinberg, the attorney who handled the compensation program for victims injured or killed by General Motors vehicles with defective ignition switches.
Feinberg will develop and administer a program to handle claims by owners of VW’s 2.0-liter and 3.0-liter diesel vehicles with so-called “defeat devices” or illegal software designed to skirt U.S. clean air rules.
“His extensive experience in handling such complex matters will help to guide us as we move forward to make things right with our customers,” said Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn in a statement.
However, there is little solid information for disgruntled owners of VW diesel vehicles.
“At this point, Feinberg’s group has just been retained,” wrote Jeannine Ginivan, a VW spokeswoman, in response to a query from Edmunds. “They will start by developing a protocol for claims. At this point, we do not have any further details but will certainly share when we do.”
Feinberg said he will “commence work immediately designing an independent claims process that will meet claimants’ needs.”
He said he would seek input from “vehicles owners, their lawyers and other interested parties” in setting up the program.
Volkswagen has not recalled the affected diesel vehicles at this point or detailed plans to repair them. It is unclear whether any compensation program will include vehicle buy-backs.
Edmunds says: It is expected to take at least 60-90 days to develop this plan. In addition, consumers who participate will waive their rights to sue Volkswagen.