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Volkswagen diesel owners remain in limbo over Canadian compensation

Exasperated Canadian Volkswagen owners anxious for a settlement will be stuck in the limbo they're enduring over their emissions-spewing diesel vehicles for at least a few more weeks.

Diesel car owners frustrated by long wait for settlement in emissions scandal

Tyler Spurrel of Whitby, Ont., wants Volkwagen Canada to tell him how much he'll get back for his 2011 Jetta TDI Highline. (Tyler Spurrel)

Exasperated Canadian Volkswagen owners anxious for a Canadian settlement will be stuck in the limbo they're enduring over their emissions-spewing diesel vehicles for at least a few more weeks.

Volkswagen Canada and parties involved in class-action lawsuits in Ontario and Quebec were scheduled to give updates in court today on a proposed deal to compensate the roughly 100,000 VW owners affected by the emissions-cheating debacle, but the updates were put off.

A lawyer from Siskinds Law Firm involved in the Ontario suit told CBC News on Tuesday morning that they hope to have something concrete regarding the affected 2.0L TDI vehicles by the next scheduled court date on Dec. 19.

In an email Tuesday morning, a spokesperson from Volkswagen Canada said, "The parties continue to engage in productive discussions and will keep the courts updated." 

'Furious beyond belief'

"Here we are, the big court date and nothing is solved," said VW Passat owner from Mono, Ont., Anca Periet. "Are the lawyers dragging the issue for their own benefit? I'm furious beyond belief."

Canadian owners of diesel VWs have been faced with uncertainty since it was learned in 2015 the engines emit nitrogen oxide at a level many times more than permitted under pollution standards. They'll take a financial hit if they sell the cars, but have yet to hear how Volkswagen will compensate them. 

On Monday, after asking car owners on the site to tell their stories, CBC News received dozens of emails and phone calls from group members across the country who were anticipating some sort of announcement.

'Enough is enough'

"I am held hostage by Volkswagen," Sarnia, Ont., Passat owner Dennis Hobday said. "Nobody wants my car. I hate them for putting me in that position."

At the end of July, VW announced diesel owners in the U.S. can choose between a buyback or a repair, in addition to cash compensation ranging from $5,100 to $10,000 per owner. People who owned an affected VW model as of September 2015, when the EPA first exposed the scandal, or have since bought one, will be eligible. The gavel is expected to come down on the $14.7-billion US deal today.

Rumours have been circulating that the Canadian settlement will be very similar to the U.S. one. Almost all of the owners CBC News spoke to said they would be happy with that. They're just tired of waiting.  

"My hope is that we get a settlement that would mirror the U.S., but tweaked to Canadian car values," Hobday said. "I would be ecstatically happy with that. Then we could move on with our lives. Enough is enough." 

Jetta TDI Highline owner Tyler Spurrel from Whitby, Ont., just wants answers. "I'm very frustrated with how they're handling things right now," he said. "They could just let us know what's going on, it's the least they could do."

'It's devastating me financially'

Bonnie Ayotte purchased a VW Beetle in Abbotsford, B.C., for $38,000 in 2013, thinking it was a clean vehicle that she could pass on to her son when he graduated. The single mother on disability is concerned about reports the amount she gets for her car may be adjusted to account for mileage. In that case, she fears she could lose as much $20,000 on the vehicle.

"It's devastating me financially. I should not be punished for these miles," she said. "I have no control over the time taken and, unlike others, cannot afford to get another vehicle to park mine while we wait."

Many diesel VW owners did stop driving their vehicles, thinking the size of their settlement might be contingent on mileage.

That's what Ottawa's Charlene Roy did. She owns a VW Jetta, but takes transit to work. Until she knows what she'll be getting back, the single mother of four is keeping her car parked.

"I saved my butt off up to be able to buy the vehicle. It's not something I want to go into debt over," she said. "Buy my car back and let me go somewhere else."

Young drivers like Nikko Layson are also sick of living with the uncertainty. The 24-year-old budgeted to buy his 2012 Golf in the midst of trying to find a place to rent in B.C.'s white-hot housing market. He had to purchase a second vehicle to prevent adding mileage to his Golf.

"My financial situation has been thrown into question," he said. "I'm sitting here dug deeper in debt on a car I can't even drive, and making payments that I will never see back."

Losing faith in the brand

Retired University of Waterloo engineering professor Ed Jernigan feels personally betrayed by VW.

"I had made a considerable effort to be environmentally responsible in my purchase decision," he said. "It's absurd. VW will have to step up, take full responsibility, and make full restitution if they ever want to restore their reputation for making quality vehicles‎."

Brian McFadden is happy with his VW Touareg and would even consider purchasing another vehicle from the automaker, but he calls the lack of communication "pathetic." The Simcoe County, Ontario, resident said the longer it takes to reach a settlement, the more customers they'll lose.

"Bottom line is we were all lied to by Volkswagen," said James Hoy, a VW Golf owner from Barrie, Ont. "We have been patiently waiting for a fair and fast resolution."

Hoy and more than 4,500 Canadian VW owners have banded together in a Facebook group called Canadian VW TDI Owners

A Volkwagen Canada spokesperson told CBC News that a court order requires all parties to keep the details related to settlement discussions in Canada confidential.

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