From ArsTechnica:

On Tuesday, a federal judge in San Francisco gave preliminary approval to a $15 billion settlement proposed by Volkswagen Group and Justice Department lawyers back in June.

The settlement would provide for a buyback of all of VW Group’s 2.0L diesel vehicles sold in the US with illegal software on them—that’s 475,474 cars—at the price the cars would have fetched before VW Group’s emissions cheating scandal was made public. In addition, lessees would be able to cancel their leases, and both owners and lessees will get an additional $5,100 to $10,000 in compensation.

VW and Audi owners whose cars qualify for the buyback will also have the option to refuse the buyback and have the cars fixed so that they comply with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. So far, US air regulators have not approved a fix, but on Tuesday the head of the California Resources Board (CARB), which has played a large role in the regulatory fallout from Volkswagen’s cheating scandal, told a German paper that regulators were very close to approving a fix.

Today’s approved settlement includes a $4.7 billion portion that will go to environmental damage mitigation and development of reduced-emissions vehicles. None of the money spent through this settlement can go toward developing proprietary technology for VW Group, a lawyer representing the class-action suit against VW Group noted in June. Instead, technology developed through this fund must be available to other car companies. Rumors have suggested that VW Group will spend the money on replacing diesel buses with cleaner ones in US cities.

Judge Breyer still needs to give the settlement final approval, and he’s slated to do …

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