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May 24, 12:31 PM EDT

Judge: Substantial progress in Volkswagen emissions talks

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Volkswagen and attorneys for vehicle owners affected by the company's emissions cheating scandal are on target to meet a June deadline for a final settlement proposal, a federal judge said Tuesday.

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer said the parties have made substantial progress in reaching a deal for nearly half a million polluting Volkswagens in the U.S.

Breyer announced a tentative agreement last month that would give owners the option of having Volkswagen buy back or repair their vehicles.

The judge did not provide any additional details about the ongoing talks.

The scandal erupted in September when it was learned that the German automaker had fitted many of its cars with software to fool emissions tests and had put dirty vehicles on the road. Car owners and the Justice Department sued.

VW, the U.S. Department of Justice and attorneys for Volkswagen owners have until June 21 to file a final settlement with the court.

Many questions remain unanswered, including how much money owners can expect in a buyback and how much additional compensation beyond repairs and buybacks they'll receive.

Breyer has the authority to reject any final deal that the parties propose.

The tentative deal announced last month covered roughly 482,000 Volkswagens with 2-liter, four-cylinder diesel engines. It did not cover sabout 90,000 Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche diesel vehicles with 3-liter, six-cylinder engines.

Breyer said engineering studies and testing of those vehicles were ongoing. The tentative deal also did not cover potential fines and penalties.

Volkswagen said in a statement after the hearing that it was pleased that it continued to make progress in settlement talks, and it thanked U.S. customers for their continued patience.

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