Martin Winterkorn, Other Ex-VW Execs Face the Music in Germany
Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn is one of five former Volkswagen executives who will be standing trial in a German court over their actions in the diesel emissions cheating scandal.
The five were charged in 2019 for using defeat devices to cheat emissions tests, but a court has modified the charges so that now the five could be charged as a criminal gang.
Volkswagen's Dieselgate Concludes in the U.S.
Volkswagen Group appears to have completed the terms laid out by the U.S. Department of Justice after it decided the automaker required some oversight in the wake of the 2015 emissions fiasco (colloquially known as Dieselgate). VW was found guilty of equipping certain models with emissions-cheating software that would allow the car to run cleaner under testing conditions (passing regulations) and dirtier, with better performance, the rest of the time.
The con was brilliant and allowed VW to fool regulators for years until it all blew up in its face. Getting caught in the United States kicked off a chain reaction that cost the automaker a fortune globally. In May, VW estimated it had spent €31.3 billion ($34.40 billion USD) in fines and settlements and fines globally — adding that it expects to bleed another €4.1 billion through 2021. But the company was certainly happy to announce on Monday that it had adhered to settlement deal it reached with the Department of Justice and California’s Attorney General.
Six Additional Volkswagen Employees Now Face Dieselgate Charges
The fallout from a scandal that broke in September 2015 after percolating for years has spilled over into the new decade. German prosecutors have laid charges against six Volkswagen employees whom they claim played a role in deceiving regulators and the public.
While the vehicles involved in the diesel emissions scandal have either been fixed or crushed, Germany’s still marching ahead with its investigation into the matter, seeking out those who helped fool the world into believing the brand’s “clean diesel” technology was legit.
Volkswagen CEO, Chairman, and Former CEO Indicted in Diesel Scandal
Methodical German prosecutors have finally made their way to the top of Volkswagen’s executive ranks, charging CEO Herbert Diess and Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch with stock market manipulation.
On Tuesday, the prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig indicted Diess, Pötsch, and former CEO Martin Winterkorn, accusing the men of withholding information of a looming emissions scandal from investors. Winterkorn, already indicted by U.S. authorities and slapped with a fraud charge in Germany, stepped down shortly after the scandal broke in September 2015.
Diess vows to stay on as VW’s boss as the charges play out.
The Heat Is … Off? Porsche Pays Up to Distance Itself From Diesel Scandal
Porsche, builder of SUVs (but also some sports cars), wasn’t eager to draw out the nearly four-year-long diesel emissions scandal any longer. The automaker has agreed to fork over a third bundle of cash to rid itself of the scandal foisted on the brand by its Volkswagen AG parent company.
Well, that’s not entirely correct. German prosecutors are still probing VW Group brass, both current and former, but the mechanical and regulatory side of Porsche’s involvement will pass into history after it pays $599 million.
More Legal Trouble for Volkswagen, Former CEO
While three and a half years have passed since the Volkswagen diesel scandal broke, its reverberations are still being felt. For the automaker turned green soothsayer, this usually comes with financial hardship attached, plus the requisite regurgitation of a past VW would like to see forgotten.
The latest salvo launched at VW over its emissions-rigged cars comes from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which is suing the company — as well as its former CEO, Martin Winterkorn — for the “massive fraud” it says VW perpetrated on investors.
Germany Engineering Firm Pleads Guilty to Involvement in VW Emissions Scandal
IAV GmbH, the German engineering company co-owned by Volkswagen Group, plead guilty to a felony count of conspiracy in a U.S. District Court on Friday, to the surprise of absolutely no one. Last month, authorities said the firm had already agreed to a guilty plea and multi-million-dollar fine for its role in helping Volkswagen Group develop software that could effectively help cars falsify emissions test results.
That makes the courtroom officiation little more than a formality. While the court wants to conducts a probationary investigation, effectively delaying sentencing until May 22nd, there is little doubt what the final penalty will be — $35 million and two years of operation under the supervision of a court-appointed monitor.
U.S. Indicts Four Audi Managers for Diesel Deception
Four men tasked with developing a very dirty diesel engine for use in Audi vehicles have been indicted by a U.S. grand jury. The four, including the head of Audi’s Diesel Engine Development department, face charges of wire fraud, violation of the Clean Air Act, and conspiracy, all stemming from the development of an engine that didn’t have a chance of being certified in the U.S.
And, because they’re believed to be living in Germany, they’d best leave the U.S. off their list of vacation destinations.
Volkswagen's Dieselgate Still Going Strong in Europe
While Volkswagen’s diesel emission fiasco has died down in the United States, costing the automaker billions before going achieving dormancy, the legal fires burn brightly in Europe. On November 14th, a German court ruled that VW must reimburse the owner of a Golf the full price of the vehicle from when it was purchased in 2012. The decision sets a new precedent, possibly opening the firm to additional expenses via buybacks.
However, Volkswagen AG has claimed around 9,000 judgements have already been made relating to the diesel emissions scandal — most of which resulted in customer complaints being unsupported by district and higher courts. “In our opinion, there is no legal basis for customer complaints [in Europe]. Customers have suffered neither losses nor damages. The vehicles are safe and roadworthy,” VW said.
After Firing Its Boss, Audi Prepares to Pay the Piper
The scandal has raged for over three years, and Audi clearly wants to be done with it. The company said in a regulatory filing Tuesday that, like Volkswagen, it will not fight a fine handed down by German prosecutors over the selling of rigged diesel engines in that country.
Earlier this month, Audi said auf wiedersehen to jailed CEO Rupert Stadler, who’s accused of fraud in relation to the diesel emissions affair. Now, the automaker will hand over a towering pile of euros to finally close this messy chapter in its history.
VW's Electrify America Plots Second Batch of EV Charging Stations, Plug-in Propaganda
Volkswagen’s court-mandated subsidiary, Electrify America, has announced its second investment of $200 million into the nation’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and not a moment too soon. Plug-in car sales in the United States have already surpassed last year’s record of nearly 200,000 deliveries, thanks to Tesla’s rollout of the Model 3, and we’ve still got three months left to go.
Of course, it wouldn’t really matter if EV sales tanked in 2018 because VW is legally obliged to do this. There could have been a single, lonesome plug-in sale this year and Electrify America would still have to spend the same amount — as per its parent company’s agreement with the U.S. government. This time around, the goal is to improve charging infrastructure between cities while not ignoring major metropolitan areas. Cycle 2 will also focus primarily on California for the next 30 months, which is probably for the best. The state accounts for over half the country’s yearly EV sales.
Porsche is Officially Ditching Diesel
Porsche will quit offering diesel powertrains for its cars and light trucks, effectively adding another nail to the fuel’s coffin. Following Volkswagen Group’s emission’s fiasco in the United States, which included Porsche, Europe has become increasingly critical of diesel-engined vehicles. Citywide bans have have been proposed throughout the region and, as of February, Porsche suspended diesel sales due to an ongoing German probe into VW Group’s diesel engines.
That investigation found that the Cayenne EU5 model’s 8-cylinder diesel was in violation of the established rules, affecting 13,500 units, according to Bild am Sonntag. Porsche then recalled nearly 60,000 Cayenne and Macan diesels in May as it launched its own investigation.
“Porsche is not demonizing diesel. It is, and will remain, an important propulsion technology,” Porsche Chief Executive Oliver Blume said in a statement. “We as a sports car manufacturer, however, for whom diesel has always played a secondary role, have come to the conclusion that we would like our future to be diesel-free.”
Judge Accuses Former VW Boss of Lying, New Class-action Suit in the Works
A judge hearing a case brought by investors against Volkswagen has deemed its former corporate head, Martin Winterkorn, was too slow in addressing the emissions test cheating that steered the automotive giant into colossal U.S. fines. It’s an early blow against the German company in a suit seeking $10.6 billion in damages for stock losses suffered when the scandal finally became public.
“Anyone acting in good faith would have followed up on this information,” Judge Christian Jaede of the ex-CEO during the second day of hearings held at the Braunschweig higher regional court. “This appears not to have happened.”
Ein Problem: Volkswagen Facing $10.7 Billion Investor Lawsuit Over Diesel Scandal
Volkswagen Group will be staring down the barrel of a courtroom next week, which isn’t anything new. The automaker’s investors want 9.2 billion euros ($10.7 billion) in compensation after arguing the carmaker should have informed shareholders about a diesel emission scandal before regulators got the word out in 2015.
The lawsuit groups 1,668 individual claims, primarily those brought in by VW’s institutional shareholders, who previously accused the automaker of failing to inform investors about the scope of a scandal. Volkswagen’s excuse has always been that top brass had no idea the issue would be serious enough to cost the company 27.4 billion euros in punitive fines. But new evidence continues to emerge that upper management was well aware of the defeat devices’ existence.
Volkswagen Preparing for Mass Firings
Volkswagen Group intends to fire a group of employees implicated in the diesel emissions fraud scandal. German prosecutors in Brunswick have identified an inner circle of 39 “suspicious engineers” it believes contributed directly to the emissions cheating. It’s expected that VW will carry out these terminations as quickly as possible, with additional waves of firings to follow.
According to Handelsblatt, Volkswagen made the decision to cleanse its ranks after being granted access to the prosecution’s investigation files in July. The automaker followed up with a series of employee “interviews” and a month-long review process. VW has already announced the dismissal of six high-ranking employees, with former development head Heinz-Jakob Neußer (Neusser) being the most noteworthy.