VW to pay $15 billion in emission settlement

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 forecasts strong growth in ’17

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

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