Volkswagen Will Continue Shelling Out Dieselgate Dough
Even though the United States has already penalized and fined the crap out of Volkswagen for selling vehicles equipped with emissions-cheating defeat devices, the company remains in hot water. Earlier this month, Germany imposed a fine of $1.2 billion over the “dieselgate” scandal.
“Volkswagen accepted the fine and it will not lodge an appeal against it,” the company said. “Volkswagen, by doing so, admits its responsibility for the diesel crisis and considers this as a further major step towards the latter being overcome.”
On Monday, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals also upheld a $10 billion settlement between Volkswagen and the owners of 2.0-liter TDI vehicles that came equipped with the illegal software. The ruling pertains to roughly 475,000 customers. VW agreed to offer owners of the 2.0-liter diesels between $5,100 and $10,000 in compensation, in addition to the value of the vehicle.
Audi's Stadler Out as CEO, but Perhaps Only Temporarily
An emergency board meeting held in the wake of Audi CEO Rupert Stadler’s Monday arrest led to the chief executive’s suspension from the company. It was Stadler’s idea, apparently.
As the former CEO cools his heels in a Munich jail, held on suspicion of fraud and evidence suppression related to Volkswagen Group’s diesel emissions scandal, the automaker’s board named sales and marketing chief Abraham Schot as interim CEO. Whether or not Stadler returns to his former post depends on his innocence.
Audi CEO Rupert Stadler Arrested, Declared a Flight Risk
Rupert Stadler, chief executive officer of Audi AG, was arrested in Munich Monday morning on suspicion of fraud, according to German prosecutors.
The CEO, who took the helm at Audi in 2007 after joining the company in 1990, was taken into custody following a years-long probe into Volkswagen Group’s emissions cheating. While the automaker has already paid a steep price at home and abroad for its defeat device-equipped diesel engines, today marks the highest profile arrest so far in the ongoing investigations.
According to German media, prosecutors claim Stadler poses a flight risk, meaning he’ll remain in custody for the time being.
VW's Diess Met With Department of Justice and FBI Last Week
Volkswagen’s new chief executive officer, Herbert Diess, is believed to have met with the United States’ Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation last week to discuss the manufacturer’s emissions scandal. Details on the matter are scare at present, but the meeting would explain why the U.S. was willing to provide the CEO with a safe-passage guarantee.
While VW has previously stated its cooperation in various investigations, it declined to comment on Diess’ alleged visit to federal authorities.
U.S. Gives Volkswagen's New Boss 'Safe Passage' Guarantee
Shortly after the United States formally accused former CEO of Volkswagen Martin Winterkorn of criminal wrongdoing related to the company’s diesel emission scandal, it decided to let the company’s new boss know that he’s safe to visit whenever he likes. The U.S. Justice Department has agreed to give Herbert Diess a safe-passage deal that allows him to travel without fear of being arrested.
Diess was also given the country’s assurance that he’ll be given advance notice if prosecutors eventually decide to charge him over the emissions cheating issue. So far as we know, no such deal exists for his predecessor, Matthias Müller, who replaced Winterkorn in September of 2015.
Volkswagen's Former CEO Finally Charged Over Diesel Cheating Scandal
Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn has been charged by U.S. prosecutors with conspiracy and wire fraud, according to an indictment that was unsealed in a Michigan federal court on Thursday. For those of you who have been following the Dieselgate scandal from the beginning, this has been a long time coming.
Winterkorn has been at the epicenter of the emissions-cheating issue since before VW’s earliest admissions and was swiftly removed from his post as the automotive group’s chief executive in 2015. He also had a major falling out with ex-supervisory board chairman Ferdinand Piëch after being confronted on the emissions issue during the Geneva Motor Show.
The two had previously held a very close relationship but a power struggle within the organization appeared to have been brewing for quite some time, making the scandal an important turning point. Piëch became vaguely accusatory of Winterkorn in the aftermath and eventually cut ties with the company and, by extension, his family. All the while Winterkorn was under investigation in both the United States and Germany.
German Diesel Probe Goes Deep With Porsche
The investigative parade continues in Germany. Prosecutors investigating Volkswagen Group’s diesel-emissions scandal have now turned their attention to Porsche. Roughly 10 facilities owned by the automaker in Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg were searched by around 160 investigators.
Stuttgart-based prosecutors claimed to be interested in three specific individuals suspected of fraud and fraudulent advertising as it relates to the manipulated emissions-control systems of diesel passenger cars. The office clarified that Porsche CEO Oliver Blume was not among them, however.
Nearly There: Feds Green-light Emission Fix for More Audi Diesels
The Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board have approved emissions repairs for another 24,000 Audi vehicles equipped with the 3.0-liter diesel V6.
Back in May, a U.S. District Judge ruled that if Volkswagen Group failed to obtain government approval for fixes on its emissions-cheating diesels, it would be forced to offer owners buy-backs. Keen not to spend even more money as a result of dieselgate, the company went to work on a solution — resulting in an initial 38,000 Audi and Porsche vehicles spared from the wrecking yard.
The new approval covers 2014-2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L and Q5 diesel models. The vehicles are to have their defeat device software removed and various hardware components replaced to ensure emissions compliance. VW says it has now has a remedy for about 75 percent of its tainted 3.0-liters, and hopes to have a solution for the remaining 20,000 soon.
Nabbed in Miami Bathroom, Volkswagen Executive Gets Seven Years for Role in Diesel Conspiracy
The judge didn’t go easy on the former Volkswagen executive. Oliver Schmidt, 48, former general manager of Volkswagen’s U.S. Environment and Engineering Office, was sentenced to seven years in prison and handed a $400,000 fine Wednesday for his role in covering up the automaker’s diesel emissions deception.
Schmidt’s punishment is the maximum allowed under the plea deal he reached in August. The executive pleaded guilty to two charges relating to the conspiracy to violate the country’s Clean Air Act with a fleet of pollution-spewing diesel cars.
“It is my opinion that you are a key conspirator in this scheme to defraud the United States,” U.S. District Judge Sean Cox of Detroit told Schmidt. “You saw this as your opportunity to shine … and climb the corporate ladder at VW.”
The sentencing wraps up a legal saga that began, unpleasantly, as Schmidt sat on a Miami toilet during a vacation stopover.
Oil Crash: Audi, Volkswagen Discounting Old 3.0-liter TDI Models
Volkswagen’s 3.0-liter diesel V6 isn’t returning to the U.S. anytime soon. After forking over roughly $25 billion in the wake of its diesel deception, the company’s not exactly enthused about getting back into the compression ignition game. But that doesn’t mean buyers aren’t.
Europhiles with a penchant for low-end torque can still get their hands on a diesel Volkswagen or Audi SUV that meets federal emissions standards. And, thanks to new discounts, they’ll stand to save some money.
Old Hat: European Sale of Diesel Cars Overtaken by Gasoline for the First Time Since 2009
Diesel-powered passenger vehicle sales have fallen in Europe. Data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) showed diesel’s year-over-year market share plummeting in the first half of 2017, sinking from 50.2 percent to 46.3 percent of all new car registrations in the EU.
Helped by negative publicity and governmental intervention, it’s the first time diesels have dipped below the 50 percent mark since 2009. ACEA’s figures indicate 152,323 fewer diesel cars sold so far in 2017, attributing some of the decline to a renewed interest in gasoline-powered vehicles. Of course, if you aren’t buying diesel, you don’t have a lot of other options.
Still, deliveries of “alternative” vehicles — which include hybrid, electric, and natural gas-powered automobiles — also rose by more than 35 percent. Those categories now account for 5.2 percent of Europe’s total auto sales.
General Motors Believes Diesel Lovers Haven't Stopped Loving Diesels
General Motors’ diesel-powered midsize pickup trucks are the only midsize pickup trucks available in America with diesel engines. GM’s Chevrolet Cruze is the only compact car on sale in America with a diesel engine. Although the Mazda CX-5 is scheduled to arrive later this year, diesel-powered editions of the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain will be the first small utility vehicles with diesel options.
With all the negative diesel press earned largely by the eruption of Volkswagen’s emissions scandal in September 2015, is GM’s investment in America’s diesel market a complete and utter waste?
GM obviously thinks not. “I don’t think diesel customers forgot why they liked driving diesels in the last two years,” GM’s vice president for global propulsion systems, Dan Nicholson, tells Automobile. “They didn’t forget about the driving character or the fuel economy.”
Moreover, Nicholson says of the tens of thousands of former Volkswagen TDI owners, “We don’t think those customers went away.”
VW Executive Pleads Guilty to Lesser Charges in Emissions Cheating Case
Oliver Schmidt, a German national and Volkswagen’s former emissions compliance manager in the United States, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court in Detroit for his role in the massive diesel emissions scandal. However, he didn’t cop to the complete list of charges.
Instead of the 11 felonies and 169 years of possible prison time he was initially charged with, Schmidt is down to just a couple — conspiring to mislead U.S regulators and violating the Clean Air Act. This makes him eligible for a maximum of seven years behind bars or, more likely, no jail time at all.
German Prosecutors Look Into Porsche, Bosch Over Diesel Emissions
While the United States concluded its investigation into Volkswagen Group’s diesel emissions scandal months ago, the wheels of justice turn appear to turn more slowly in Germany.
Prosecutors in Stuttgart have launched a preliminary investigation into employees at Porsche to assess whether they were involved in designing any of the company’s emissions-cheating software. Porsche is the latest addition in a governmental probe against Volkswagen Group. German prosecutors have already launched a formal investigation against the core brand and Audi.
Prosecutor Jan Holzner explained on Thursday, however, that the Porsche inquiry was not yet a formal investigation. The same could not be said of managers at Bosch, who Holzner believes may have had a role in aiding and abetting Volkwagen’s emissions fraud.
VW Reduces Venerable Management Staff to Bleed the Young
Volkswagen Group is continuing to clean house and has made plans to eliminate a significant number of its management staff using the same “early retirement” tactics offered to its longstanding labor force. It’s another obvious attempt on VW’s part to remake itself into a younger, forward-thinking automaker following the diesel emissions scandal — and save itself some money in the process.
While the layoffs aren’t explicitly targeted at Germany, the majority of outgoing managers will certainly come from its European workforce. Volkswagen has declined to comment on the exact number of hangers-on potentially affected by the plan.