By on March 17, 2016


After its excessively dirty diesels polluted the nation’s air for years, Volkswagen is on the verge of making environmental reparations in the U.S. and state of California, Bloomberg reports.

The automaker is reportedly in talks with U.S authorities to create two remediation funds aimed at offsetting some of the environmental (and possibly legal) damage resulting from the diesel emissions scandal.

The national fund would be managed by the Environmental Protection Agency, where Volkswagen’s money would go towards promoting low-emissions motoring. The California fund would be managed by the state for the same purposes. (Anyone interested in an electric Volkswagen? Hmm?)

The U.S. Department of Justice is suing Volkswagen for up to $46 billion, and the creation of these funds could result in the financial penalty being lowered.

Volkswagen is currently attempting to find a viable fix for the 11 million diesel vehicles recalled worldwide, for which billions of dollars have been set aside to fund. In the U.S., the automaker has until next week to present its plan, though it has admitted that the deadline will come and go without one.

Last week, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) admitted many older diesel models likely wouldn’t be able to be fixed, and raised the possibility of allowing the automaker the leniency to deliver only a partial fix.

The partial-fix option would be an alternative to buying back older models sold in California, though CARB would insist that Volkswagen hand over money to offset the future pollution.

Hypothetically, if the national and state-level remediation funds are substantial enough, it is possible the automaker could avoid a U.S. buyback program altogether.

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21 Comments on “Volkswagen Prepares its Pollution Penance...”

  • avatar

    Instead of severely punishing the few people who knew about it and planned the cheating what we’ll do is will attempt to destroy the entire company in order to make electric vehicles look better and just because we can .

    Anyone who works for Volkswagon and has a family and suffers because of our misguided greed and environmentalfascist madness will just have to deal with it .

    Let this serve as a warning to anyone who would try to turn out a product that doesn’t meet our ever-changing and ever increasingly difficult to meet regulations .

    We OWN YOU.

    • 0 avatar

      “We Own You” That was conglomoco’s slogan in Rocko’s Modern Life. You know the kids show where the main character is a phone sex operator with a dog named spunky.

    • 0 avatar

      If any VW employee suffers it’s because of the decisions of VW’s management to deliberately violate US regulations, then lie about it for 6+ years. I’m sure it sucks for them but I bet that there’s someone (a responsible multi-millionaire executive) that they could hold responsible.

    • 0 avatar

      Dude. They games the system and got caught. They gambled and lost. That should speak to you.

      Now they want them to play by the same rules as everyone else. That should also speak to you, since you seem to want to be all about fairness.

      If instead, you’d rather believe business can do no wrong and as long as they create jobs, let them do what they want, well – enjoy that. I’ll get off the ride here.

  • avatar

    You know, the more I read from this Steph Williams person about VW, the more I wonder if they just make up things to put in their articles. I’m particularly interested in seeing how what he has reported here in any way backs up this claim:

    “Hypothetically, if the national and state-level remediation funds are substantial enough, it is possible the automaker could avoid a U.S. buyback program altogether.”

    Yes, VW has to make good to the regulators by fixing or buying back the cars. Yes, if they put up big money in a remediation fund for the government then their fines may be lowered, but there’s no way that they’ll get out of having to buy back at least some portion of these cars. Hell, even the very article that you linked to says “The funds would resolve only part of VW’s liabilities in the U.S., but they would be the first clear signal that the company is willing to negotiate in a serious manner,”

    The government isn’t the only entity that VW has to make whole. There’s 600,000 owners out there who were defrauded by them, and the only reasonable remedy for that STARTS with a buyback and ends with treble damages under RICO statutes.

    • 0 avatar

      I 100% agree that the owners need to be compensated for the fraud issue but there are so many crimes VW committed, I think this news is just dealing with the EPA, compliance, and the fines imposed. Compensating owners for the fraud issue will have to be settled in court, many months down the line, after the EPA and CARB approve a “fix.”

      • 0 avatar

        I’d like to think that what is being discussed here is separate from doing right by the customers, but that is not the stance that Steph Williams appears to be taking, nor does it appear to be the stance that Judge Breyer is taking as well. For that matter, the latest leaks on this from the negotiations are that the TDIs can’t be made compliant (at least not most of them), and that the CARB/EPA “fix” will be to offer customers either a buyback at a price that doesn’t include anything like damages OR the option to get a partial fix plus some goodwill money and an extended warranty on emissions components. We both know that taking either of those deals is absolutely going to come with a waiver of our rights to sue, and so in effect it will be the sum total settlement afforded to TDI owners.

        There is no separating the EPA/CARB fix from making the customers whole, because making the customers whole is contingent on what the fix is and if the cars can’t be made compliant any “remediation” will have a waiver attached.

  • avatar
    Steve Lynch

    Yes, satisfying the consumers is obviously the last thing on VW’s list.

    As for California using the money to promote low emission motoring: HA! The money will go towards the legislature’s pet projects as per usual.

  • avatar

    VW pays and this all goes to a slushfund that the Democrats will use for something else. This is how it works. Just like the BP oil spill – 10 cents goes to the victims and 90 percent goes to the overhead of Uncle Sam so he can brag about how caring about the environment we are!

    • 0 avatar

      Nice made-up statistics backed by neither sources nor evidence. You know, Kenneth Feinberg is on a speaking tour right now. You could visit a city and hear him explain how the compensation process for the BP spill, GM ignition switch failures etc.actually works.

  • avatar

    What a steal by the State of California! Instead of direct reparations directly to those that own their virtually worthless cars, the now Republican led CARB instead wants to funnel the money directly to them and give the owners the environmental equivalent of a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card.

    • 0 avatar

      Issuing those get out of jail free cards is a costly bureaucratic process that will require the purchase of expensive hardware and software systems plus adding new state employees to process the paperwork.

  • avatar

    If the culpable at VW will be whipped at the stake and then say a hundred Our Fathers, then the archaic “pennance” is wonderfully appropriate. If it’s paying a fine and having an attorney draft an apology to be read by a corporate spokesperson, then “penance” in all its modernity will (not) absolve them of their sins.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    laserwizard says the money will go to the Democrats.

    TheDoctorIsOut says the money will go to the Republicans.

    The articles state it will go to the EPA and CARB, but “zero emission” vehicles sometimes means “fuel cell boondoggle” rather than “EV”. It didn’t actually say “EV”.

    In any case, laundering VW’s money as an ongoing government program is a bad idea. They should have their day(s) in court, pay their fines, and pay off their customers.

    The problem is, they can’t afford it.

    This is where the reduction of Volkswagen begins: they will eke out a settlement that is severely injurious but not fatal, but also doesn’t satisfy the mob outside. Then their market dries up, revenues fall, layoffs begin, and the terrible cycle continues.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. I also recall last week making the claim it was all about the Benjamins.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, I’m actually OK with that. It’s the closest thing that we have to a corporate death penalty, so we might as well use it. Every once in awhile we need an Enron or Worldcom to remind executives that there are consequences to their illegal scheming. Unfortunately, 99 times out of 100 they get fired (“replaced by mutual agreement” or “leave to pursue other interests”), collect their golden parachute, and go on to live happy lives as millionaires. What do they care? They’re playing with someone elses money. If they get caught breaking the law then the company pays the price, not them personally, and if they don’t get caught breaking the law then they’ll get a bonus to bumping the stock price. It’s a win/can’t lose situation.

      On the other hand, if a few hundred thousand people lose their jobs and investors lose $100 billion due to your malfeasance…well…you might just end up in prison as a warning to the next guy.

  • avatar

    Sorry to be picky, but someone has to tell you that repentant sinners pay “penance.” Baseball teams also win pennants, which is an entirely different thing.

    • 0 avatar

      Penance is for Catholics and Orthodox. We Lutherans have enough certainty in our own forgiveness (as long as we’re truly repentant) that we don’t feel obligated to complete a set of arbitrary tasks to “earn” it.

  • avatar

    BMW wanted to make a big deal of their gesture controls when I drove the new 7-series. They also want to make a big deal about the “summon” feature where the car unparks itself while you wait outside the garage.

    It takes all of a few minutes before you’re subconsciously reaching for knobs…

    Most people DO NOT use automated parking or automated driving on cars that exist right now simply because:

    #1 they don’t trust it.
    #2 When they want to test it, they’ve forgotten how to activate it (same goes for ACC)
    #3 It’s just not as fast as if they do it themselves.

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