Dealer lawyer Leonard Bellavia, who wasn't involved in the settlement discussions, said attorneys for the dealers did "an excellent job" of bringing closure to the matter without litigation.
"Settlements by definition are compromises," Bellavia said. "While dealers may have lost more than $1.8 million in blue sky alone, the reality is most dealers aren't selling, so that would not be an item of compensation that dealers should hold out for."
Before the deal was made public, buy-sell advisers said the $1.85 million average payout contemplated by a reported $1.2 billion fund would be enough to compensate for lost franchise value or lost profits, but not both.
"Does it cover everything? I don't know how you can figure out how much you've really lost," said Dan Quirk, president of Quirk Auto Dealers with VW dealerships in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Quirk praised VW's handling of its dealers over the past year and said he plans to accept the settlement. While VW's U.S. sales have sagged, Quirk's two VW stores are on pace to match the roughly 1,200 new vehicles sold last year at each location. He said he has been able to replace diesel business, which accounted for about a quarter of his VW sales, with sales of gasoline-powered cars.
Fred Emich, general manager of Emich Volkswagen in Denver, also plans to accept the settlement, saying it will repair the financial impact at his store, where sales are off 12 percent this year. The real question is whether enough customers will come back to VW going forward.
"There is the concern that there's so many people asking for money out of VW," Emich said. "How much is the U.S. government going to fine them? Are they going to be solvent in the future and remain a strong brand?
"A bird in the hand now is kind of nice," he added, "but the future five or 10 years from now is when we'll really know whether this was good."