By William Wilkes
FRANKFURT-- Volkswagen AG's bill for its emissions-cheating scandal could top $25 billion following an agreement reached late Tuesday to compensate vehicle owners in the U.S.
According to court documents filed in the U.S., Volkswagen will pay $1.2 billion in settlements to compensate owners of about 80,000 of its larger, 3-liter vehicles implicated in the scandal, as well as buying some back and fixing others. The figure could rise to $4 billion if regulators don't approve the car maker's proposed remedies.
The figure compares with a roughly $1 billion figure estimated in December.
Separately, Robert Bosch GmbH, the German parts supplier accused of helping design the software that allowed cars to dodge pollution testing, said it agreed to pay $327.5 million to settle a U.S. civil claim that it helped create Volkswagen's so-called "defeat device" software. If approved, that would close the civil investigation into Bosch.
Volkswagen has been embroiled in lawsuits in the U.S. in connection with its admission in late 2015 that it had installed software in some 11 million vehicles world-wide that allowed them to dodge emissions testing. Last year, lawyers alleged that Volkswagen and Bosch cooperated on developing, maintaining and hiding devices fitted to cheat U.S. emissions tests--a charge Bosch has denied.
Court filings in September alleged Bosch Chief Executive Volkmar Denner knew about Volkswagen's cheat device, and met with former Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn 18 months before the scandal erupted.
Bosch said its settlement didn't mean it accepted the plaintiff's charges or any liability.
"We wish to devote our attention and resources to the transition in mobility and in other areas of activity," Mr. Denner said.
Lawyers representing consumers said the Volkswagen deal was another step toward providing "fair value" for customers and removing illegally polluting Volkswagen vehicles from U.S. roads.
Volkswagen said Wednesday that the proposed deal would mean all U.S. customers would have a resolution for tainted vehicles available to them.
A preliminary hearing on the settlements is scheduled for Feb. 14.
The deal covers newer Volkswagen-brand Audi and Porsche cars and sport-utility vehicles. Those cars are usually more expensive than the 2-liter vehicles at the core of the emissions scandal.
Volkswagen last year agreed to pay $17.5 billion to settle civil lawsuits, including $10 billion in June to compensate drivers of 475,000 diesel-powered vehicles with 2-liter engines that violated U.S. emissions laws. Last month, Volkswagen pleaded guilty to charges in the U.S. that included conspiring to defraud the government and consumers by manipulating diesel engines, and agreed to pay a criminal fine of $4.3 billion.
German prosecutors last week named Mr. Winterkorn as a suspect in a fraud investigation as part of a probe into the emissions scandal. The prosecutors suspect Mr. Winterkorn may have known about the issue earlier than he acknowledged.
An attorney for Mr. Winterkorn said last week that the former CEO would comment on the probe to investigators once he has examined the evidence against him. Mr. Winterkorn told a German parliamentary investigative committee last month that he didn't learn about the emissions-cheating software until September 2015, shortly before Volkswagen admitted cheating to U.S. environmental authorities.