A main aspect of the agreement between VW and the EPA to settle its diesel-emission cheating scandal is an offer by Volkswagen to buy back all 482,000 2.0-liter TDI diesel vehicles sold from 2009 through 2015.
The details of that agreement won't be made public until June 21, and won't be finalized until July 26, after public input has been received.
Today, owners don't know what they'll be offered for their cars—though we sense that the longer the scandal drags on, the more owners are likely to offer their cars to VW to buy.
A look at a few previous buyback programs by other carmakers, however, may provide some clues as to how VW may structure its program—subject to court approval, of course.
(Note that this is all hypothetical until the final agreement is settled; we have no inside information on the terms Volkswagen plans to offer.)
2001 Ford Windstar
Several examples of smaller manufacturer buyback programs exist.
For instance, a 2010 recall of Ford Windstar minivans built from 1997 through 2003 for rusting rear axles included an offer by Ford to owners to repurchase certain 1998-2000 vans “with cracked or perforated axles, in lieu of replacing the axle.”
The purchase price for those vans was the Kelley Blue Book used value for a vehicle of that year and mileage, assuming the vehicle was in "excellent condition."
The recall letter also mentions "incentive money" available to "increase acceptance rate," meaning some bonus on top of that KBB value.
Regardless of the axle condition, this likely put owners slightly ahead of the game since at least some of those vans likely wouldn't have qualified as "excellent" under KBB's definitions.
Ford's repurchase order didn't continue indefinitely, however; offers to owners of 1998-2000 Windstars with bad axles ended on December 30, 2010.
According to an update of Ford Recall Letter 10S13, slightly over half of the owners who received such an offer as of late October 2010 had taken advantage of it.
1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
More recently, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles extended buyback offers last summer to a number of Dodge, Jeep, and Ram light truck owners for a variety of safety issues.
Those included 1993–1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2002–2007 Jeep Liberty SUVs, which were recalled for a fire risk during rear-end collisions due to gas tanks located behind the rear axle.
Owners were urged to have dealers install a trailer hitch to reduce the risk, at FCA's cost, or to trade in their vehicles.
Owners of roughly 200,000 Dodge Ram, Ram, and Dodge Dakota pickup trucks, and Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen SUVs, affected by three separate steering recalls were also encouraged to bring in their vehicles for modifications or to trade them in.
In both cases, buybacks of the affected vehicles were also offered at "fair market value," plus 10 percent.
The company offered a helpful website to let owners estimate that value, but noted that physical inspections of the vehicle would be required and the value of any modifications to the vehicle wouldn't be included in the offered amount.
Once again, the fair market value was based on the trade-in value as estimated by Kelley Blue Book.
2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI
While it's likely that any program to buy back the 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel vehicles sold by Volkswagen and Audi may proceed along similar lines, owners will have to wait roughly 10 weeks to learn for sure.
To clarify one point raised by several owners, any KBB used-car values chosen would likely be the retail prices from August 2015, before the scandal broke and those values began to plummet.
The vehicles involved in the buyback are:
- 2009-2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI and 2009-2014 Jetta TDI SportWagen
- 2010-2015 VW Golf TDI and 2015 Golf TDI SportWagen
- 2012-2015 VW Passat TDI
- 2012-2015 VW Beetle TDI
- 2009-2013 and 2015 Audi A3 TDI