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Justice Dept., Volkswagen reach pact to recall 83K diesel vehicles

The U.S. Justice Department announced a partial settlement in federal court in San Francisco Tuesday that requires automaker Volkswagen to recall 83,000 diesel vehicles with three-liter engines equipped with pollution-cheating devices.

The new agreement is in addition to a previous $14.7 billion settlement that covered 475,000 smaller two-liter diesel vehicles bought in the United States. The liter number refers to cylinder space.

Volkswagen admitted last year that cars advertised as running on “clean diesel” were in fact fitted with devices that turned on emission controls when vehicles being tested and turned them off when cars were driven on the road.

Some models emitted up to 40 times the allowed amount of smog-producing nitrogen oxides when the cars were driven on the road.

In the new pact, the German carmaker must recall and fix the controls in an estimated 63,000 three-liter vehicles manufactured between 2013 and 2016, after a modification is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The company must buy back 20,000 older vehicles made between 2009 and 2012, unless an approved modification can be achieved. The older vehicles are considered harder to fix.

Volkswagen must also pay $225 million into a federal trust fund to mitigate the past and future effects of nitrogen oxide emissions.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris said $66 million of that amount will benefit California.

The $225 million environmental mitigation payment will be added to $2.7 billion designated for the fund in the earlier settlement.

The Justice Department reached today’s agreement in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the U.S. EPA.

The partial settlement, which must be approved by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco, does not resolve additional consumer lawsuits filed by people who bought the three-liter vehicles or potential criminal liability for the company.

Volkswagen Group of America Inc. President Hinrich Woebcken said lawyers for consumers have reached “substantial agreement” with the company on financial compensation for the owners. Breyer has set a Jan. 31 deadline for submission of a formal agreement regarding consumers.

The previous settlement, which Breyer approved in October, included $10 billion to compensate owners of the two-liter vehicles, $2 billion for investment in zero-emission technology and the $2.7 million for the environmental mitigation fund.

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