Volkswagen still won't publicly discuss a timeline for initiating recall repairs of U.S. diesel cars equipped with "defeat device" software.

But it is beginning the process of compensating their often angry and frustrated owners.

In a statement released last week, VW said it will retain attorney Kenneth R. Feinberg to "design and administer an independent claims resolution program" for claims related to non-compliant diesel vehicles.

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The program will cover vehicles equipped with two engines, both the 2.0-liter four-cylinder TDI powertrain that was first revealed to have emissions-cheating software and the 3.0-liter V-6 that was implicated upon further investigation.

An estimated 482,000 2.0-liter cars and 85,000 3.0-liter cars have the software, which allows the vehicles to detect the conditions of a laboratory emissions test, and temporarily lower emissions to legal levels.

In real-world driving, the software can enable the cars to ignore the emission-control hardware. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that certain models emit up to 35 times the legally-allowed amounts of nitrogen oxides.

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI

Feinberg is a well-known victim-compensation attorney, and he brings previous experience involving carmakers to the VW case. He previously served as independent administrator for claims related to the General Motors ignition-switch scandal.

Before that, he handled compensation programs for the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and for victims of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

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Feinberg will first work with Volkswagen to develop a protocol for processing eligible claims. This process usually takes 60 to 90 days, he said in a conference call last week with The Detroit News and other media outlets.

The claims program will allow Volkswagen to address some customer grievances outside of court.

2015 Audi Q7 TDI

2015 Audi Q7 TDI

There are now more than 450 civil suits related to the diesel scandal pending against VW. The majority will be consolidated and heard in a court in California in the coming months.

But in the meantime, VW is no closer to a timeline for recalling the affected diesels, and modifying them to meet emissions standards.

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The carmaker submitted a proposal to the EPA and California Air Resources Board last month for approval.

The California agency now says it will extend its deadline for review of the proposal by about three weeks. Approval by both agencies will be needed before VW can begin any recall.


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