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VW has bought back or repaired more than half of 2.0-liter diesels

It still has a long way to go, but the progress is impressive either way.

COLMA, CA - NOVEMBER 18: The Volkswagen logo is displayed at Serramonte Volkswagen on November 18, 2016 in Colma, California. Volkswagen announced plans to lay off 30,000 workers in an effort to boost profits in the wake of the recent emissions scandal. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Volkswagen is still in the process of buying back or repairing about half a million 2.0-liter diesels in the US, but its progress is looking good so far.

VW has either repurchased or repaired more than 50 percent of the 475,000 2.0-liter diesel models in the US, Reuters reports, citing a letter from Volkswagen to the judge overseeing the $15 billion settlement with owners and regulatory bodies.

Breaking down that figure, approximately 238,000 vehicles have been bought back, with an additional 6,200 having undergone repairs.

Volkswagen still has a long and dirty road ahead of it.

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That's good progress, considering its program is only six months old. Under this system, owners of affected 2.0-liter diesels can either have Volkswagen buy the vehicle back, using pre-Dieselgate price estimates, or wait until a repair becomes available. Either route also includes a one-time cash disbursement totaling thousands of dollars.

The automaker's work is far from over, though. Per the terms of its agreement with the courts, Volkswagen must either repair or repurchase 85 percent of the affected 2.0-liter diesels by 2019, or it may be staring down extra penalties.

It appears to be on track to meet that target, but owners can also opt out of the settlement process entirely. That means an owner can keep the car as-is, but he or she waives the one-time cash disbursement. It's unlikely that 15 percent of all affected owners (71,250 or so) will choose to step away from the settlement process, but it's not an impossibility.

Volkswagen ended up in this mess after it decided to cheat its way past emissions tests around the world. Special ECU software could determine when a car was being tested, and it would intentionally curb the diesel's particulate emissions. When the car later hit the road, it would pollute well in excess of legal limits.