A federal judge approved the largest auto-scandal settlement in U.S. history Tuesday, giving nearly a half-million Volkswagen owners and leaseholders the choice between selling their cars back or having them repaired so they don’t cheat on emissions tests and spew excess pollution.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said the nearly $15 billion deal “adequately and fairly” compensates consumers and gets the polluting vehicles off the road as soon as possible.
The German automaker acknowledged last year that about 475,000 Volkswagens and Audis with 2-liter, four-cylinder diesel engines were programmed to cheat on emissions tests.
Under the agreement, owners can choose to have Volkswagen buy back the vehicle regardless of its condition for the full trade-in price on Sept. 18, 2015, when the scandal broke, or pay for repairs. Volkswagen also will pay owners $5,100 to $10,000, depending on the age of the car and whether the owner owned it before Sept. 18, 2015.
Volkswagen has agreed to spend up to $10 billion compensating consumers and could start buying back cars as early as next month. Regulators have not approved any fixes.
The settlement also includes $2.7 billion for environmental mitigation and $2 billion to promote zero-emissions vehicles.
Breyer said owners were not entitled to a full refund because many had “received a great deal of use out of their vehicles.”
The settlement “is an important milestone in our journey to making things right in the United States,” Hinrich J. Woebcken, president and chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America said in a statement.
The lead attorney for owners, Elizabeth Cabraser, said the deal “holds Volkswagen accountable for its illegal behavior and breach of consumer trust.”
— Associated Press
Lockheed Martin predicted robust sales growth next year, as chief executive Marillyn Hewson streamlines the world’s largest defense contractor to focus on planes, helicopters and missiles.
Lockheed also surprised analysts with a forecast for stronger 2016 results after the $4.6 billion spinoff of an IT unit in August. Profit is expected to be $12.10 a share, compared with a July forecast of from $11.15 to $11.45 a share, the Bethesda, Md.-based company said Tuesday. Sales will expand about 7 percent in 2017, Lockheed said.
Hewson bolstered Lockheed’s holdings over the past year by buying a United Technologies helicopter division and boosting a stake in the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent program by 18 percent.
Several key elements may still shape year-end totals, starting with continuing negotiations for the largest low-rate initial production F-35 contracts.
Adjusted third-quarter earnings rose to $3.61 a share. Sales reached $11.6 billion.
— Bloomberg News
● Anheuser-Busch says it has completed the world’s first commercial shipment by self-driving truck, sending a beer-filled tractor-trailer more than 120 miles through Colorado. The company said it teamed with self-driving truck maker Otto, which was recently acquired by Uber, and the state of Colorado for the feat. The trailer, loaded with Budweiser beer, began the self-driving trip Thursday at a weigh station in Fort Collins, Colo., and ran along Interstate 25 through Denver before wrapping up in Colorado Springs. The company said a professional truck driver was on board the entire route and monitored the trip from the cab’s sleeper berth.
●U.S. home prices climbed at a solid pace in August as more home buyers competed for fewer available properties. The Standard & Poor’s CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5.1 percent in August, after a 5 percent gain in July. Portland, Seattle and Denver reported the strongest year-over-year increases for the seventh month in a row, with gains of 11.7 percent, 11.4 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively.
● Merck posted a 20 percent jump in third-quarter profit. The maker of Januvia diabetes pills on Tuesday reported net income of $2.18 billion, or 78 cents per share. That was up from $1.83 billion, or 64 cents per share, a year earlier. Adjusted earnings came to $1.07 per share. The U.S. drugmaker reported revenue of $10.54 billion in the period, up 5 percent from 2015’s third quarter. Sales of prescription drugs rose 6 percent to $9.44 billion, led by higher sales for injected cancer drug Keytruda, cholesterol pill Zetia and Gardasil and other vaccines.
● Google just picked up a key piece of technology that might move its virtual reality ambitions closer to the masses. Eyefluence, which is working to enable eye movements to control digital screens, wrote in a blog post Monday that it’s joining the search giant Alphabet. The three-year-old start-up, which had reportedly raised $21.6 million in funding, didn’t disclose a price. Google confirmed the deal with Eyefluence in a statement.
● Caterpillar reported a sharply lower third-quarter profit Tuesday of $283 million, or 48 cents per share, down from a revised $559 million, or 94 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding restructuring costs, earnings per share were 85 cents. The world’s largest construction and mining equipment maker also lowered its full-year revenue outlook for the second time. It now expects about $39 billion, down from a range of $40 billion to $40.5 billion.
— From news services