Volkswagen Pleads Guilty, Canucks Hand Wolfsburg a Record Bill

While it absolutely pales in comparison to the fines levied in the United States, Volkswagen will still have to fork over a pile to appease the Canadians.

This week, the automaker pleaded guilty to 60 charges relating to its deception of regulators and consumers with emissions-rigged diesel vehicles. While $196.5 million sounds like small potatoes in this day and age, it happens to be the largest monetary fine for an environmental crime in the country’s history.

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Adventures in Marketing: Volkswagen Airs Its Dirty Laundry

Corporate missteps requiring an apology — an increasingly common phenomenon in our current outraged era — usually follow a well-worn path. The CEO will issue a statement to the media and public apologizing for dastardly malfeasance and skullduggery (or offending a Twitter user), following it up with a statement posted to the company’s webpage and social media accounts. There will be appeals for forgiveness, perhaps tearful ones, at tense shareholder meetings — especially if the company is Japanese.

Following that, a burst of newfound goodwill appears to repair a tarnished brand.

But what if serious misdeeds, even those resulting in arrests and billions of dollars in fines, could be used to market a new product? Volkswagen went there.

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Ex-Audi CEO Clams Up, Wants Out of the Clink

Former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler’s “How I spent My Summer Vacation” story isn’t likely to make any of us jealous. The one-time top dog at the German luxury automaker has cooled his heels in a Bavarian jail ever since German authorities arrested him on suspicion of fraud back in June. Stadler’s arrest served as a shocking escalation in Germany’s investigation into Volkswagen Group’s diesel emissions scandal.

It seems like time behind bars is getting to Stadler. As the suspended executive attempts to gain his release from prison, new details have emerged over the reasons for his arrest.

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Porsche Powertrain Boss Arrested in Germany: Report

Jörg Kerner, Porsche’s head of powertrain development, has reportedly been arrested by German authorities for playing an alleged role in Volkswagen Group’s diesel emissions scandal.

Kerner, who sources say is being held on remand due to the potential of being a flight risk, was appointed director of Porsche’s powertrain development division in October 2011. Before that, Kerner worked for supplier Robert Bosch GmbH from 1986 to 2004, after which he oversaw development of engine electronics and software for Audi.

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Hey, Look - Volkswagen Finds Itself In the Midst of Another Diesel Recall

Volkswagen, most recently seen lecturing European governments on the need to ditch the diesel subsidies that, until recently, made it the continent’s most popular fuel, has a bad case of timing.

Just a day after Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller not-so-subtly touted his company’s newfound green bona fides, telling a German newspaper, “We should question the logic and purpose of diesel subsidies,” another diesel-related scandal broke. On Tuesday, Germany’s automobile regulator, KBA, issued a recall of VW’s top-end diesel SUVs.

The reason? Undeclared defeat devices, apparently designed to make the late-model 3.0-liter vehicles run cleaner while undergoing emissions testing. If this doesn’t sound familiar, you’ve been dead for the past two years.

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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.

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Those U.S. Volkswagen Diesels Aren't the Easiest Thing to Fix; VW Rounds Up Scandal Bill to $30 Billion

Twenty-seven billion seemed like an odd number, so Volkswagen upped the financial cost of its diesel emissions scandal to an even $30B. Actually, the extra expense comes entirely from the repair of older U.S.-market vehicles, which are proving less easy to fix than anticipated.

Because of this, VW has to rustle up some extra cash. The automaker set aside $26.7 billion to put the scandal behind it, and this latest price jump has the company pole vaulting over that marker.

This isn’t the only new grief facing VW, however. German media and The New York Times are reporting the arrest of the highest-ranking official so far — VW Group’s former powertrain chief.

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QOTD: Shouldn't We All Be a Little Bit Less Worried About Those Stolen Volkswagen Diesels?

I have to admit I’ve been following the story of the looted diesel Volkswagens with more than a healthy amount of interest. These cars are showing up hundreds of miles away, covered by bogus titles, maybe with involvement from various nefarious officials. Clearly this is an American version of a Guy Ritchie heist film or something.

The absolute weirdest and least believable part of the whole thing, however, has nothing to do with the theft of the cars. Rather, it’s in the police response.

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Former Volkswagen Diesel Engineer Headed to the Big House After Judge Makes an Example of Him

A former Volkswagen engineer who helped federal investigators after being linked to the diesel emissions scandal will cool his heels in an American prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox sentenced James Liang, 63, to a 40-month term today, tacking on a $200,000 fine for his involvement in the automaker’s diesel deception. Liang is the first Volkswagen employee prosecuted for having a role in the conspiracy.

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Ex-Volkswagen CEO Learned of Emissions Cheating a Month Before Board, Report Claims

German media is reporting that former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, who resigned shortly after the diesel emissions scandal erupted in September 2015, was informed about the company’s emissions cheating in late July of that year — a month before the automaker claims its executive board learned of the issue.

Several media outlets are reporting that a former senior VW quality officer told Winterkorn on July 27, 2015 that the company “cheated,” Reuters reports.

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Older Volkswagen Diesels Potentially Saved From Execution After EPA Approves Fix

Nearly two years after the mother of all automotive scandals yanked nine years’ worth of Volkswagens out of the “law-abiding citizen” category and into the environmental slammer, U.S. regulators have approved a fix for older VW 2.0-liter diesel cars.

The fix, which many believed would never happen, received an official thumbs up from the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board today. The move means potential salvation for 326,000 otherwise doomed VW and Audi vehicles in the United States.

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Audi Manager Nabbed in Germany for Role in Diesel Conspiracy; U.S. Authorities Press Charges

American investigators, hot on the trail of Volkswagen Group executives and managers with dirty hands, haven’t had the easiest time bringing suspected emissions scandal conspirators to trial. Germany doesn’t extradite citizens facing charges in other countries, making justice a tricky pursuit for U.S. authorities.

So far, only two players in the diesel deception find themselves in the arms of U.S. law enforcement— James Liang, a former executive who worked in California (and has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges), and Oliver Schmidt, a former U.S. environmental liaison who previously worked out of VW’s Michigan emissions office. Federal agents nabbed him during a Miami layover as the German national returned home from a tropical vacation in January. Six others remain safely in Germany after a U.S. indictment.

Well, expect another trial now. Earlier this week, Munich police arrested an Italian national, Zaccheo Giovanni Pamio, the former head of thermodynamics at Audi’s engine development division. It’s the first diesel-related arrest in Germany and Pamio’s citizenship means he’s a candidate for extradition to the United States.

Now charged in connection to the scandal, American authorities hope Pamio squeals on his bosses at Audi. As for his involvement, the federal government alleges Pamio and others decided a premium sound system was a better use of vehicle space than a proper emission control system.

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Volkswagen Apparently Needs More Nannies to Avoid Acting Up

It’s hard not to imagine Volkswagen as a tempestuous child, prone to mischief and currently on a “time out” after getting caught lobbing spitballs in class. The thought softens the reality of a massive corporate deception that polluted the air and led to tens of billions of dollars in penalties.

As it turns out, serving as Volkswagen’s nanny is exhaustive work. After the U.S. government ordered a monitor to keep an eye on the automaker as part of its wildly expensive settlement, the monitor feels the need to triple his staff.

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Cash Coming to 3.0-liter Diesel Owners as Judge Approves $1.22 Billion Volkswagen Settlement

Is was probably with a sigh of relief that U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer granted final approval to a settlement for owners of 3.0-liter diesel Volkswagen Group vehicles earlier today. The issue has consumed no shortage of court time both before and after last December’s preliminary approval for a buyback, compensation and fix plan.

More than 80,000 Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi models were sold with engines rigged to cheat on emissions tests. Many of those units will now be bought back and others fixed — a plan with a minimum $1.22 billion price tag.

Breyer’s approval marks the end of the automaker’s main legal wranglings in the U.S. It also opens the cash floodgates, as even owners who opt for a fix will see a pile of crisp, clean dollars from VW.

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Oil Lamp: Diesel Volkswagens Prove a Hot Sell in April, Boost Company's Fortunes

Despite having the worst public image since the Ford Pinto or Chevrolet Vega, Volkswagen’s sidelined 2015 2.0-liter diesel models flew off lots after being approved for sale in mid-April.

A crop of about 11,000 unsold TDIs loitered on dealer lots around the U.S. after being banned from sale by the Environmental Protection Agency in September 2015. In a weak month that saw numerous automakers sink on the sales charts, Volkswagen was a bright light, posting a 1.6-percent increase over April 2016. Much of that success came from still-polluting diesels.

So much for stigma.

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  • Bobbysirhan Some friends of mine were dazzled by a CUE demo that circulated on YouTube before this car reached the market. I was bewildered why anyone wanted a car as durable and dependable as their cellphones, but to each their own. One of them did actually show up with an XTS V-sport when the car first came out. He showed people CUE in my driveway, but I don't recall him offering demonstration rides to the assembled imported luxury car drivers. In the months that followed, I never saw or heard about the Cadillac again. He went back to driving his Yukon Denali until I moved away a year or two later.
  • Scoutdude Yes you will have to wait between your 10 second bursts 200 electric ponies. The fact that it lists the continous output of 94 ponies means that is what the battery, wiring or motor can handle w/o overheating. Then there is the battery SOC. There will be some point at which it doesn't have enough charge to produce that 10 second burst and even if you started that 10 sec burst with enough power it may not be able to sustain that for a full 10 sec. So the question becomes which component is the weak link, how long will it take to cool down enough before you can repeat it. If it is the battery did that 10 sec blast no only heat up the battery but also drain it to the point where it needs to be recharged before it can sustain another 10 sec burst.
  • Theflyersfan @Tim Healey: Like the idea and recommend keeping them interesting. We can get fluff piece reviews of the latest Corolla Cross "reviews" still in a Sunday paper! I'll say dig WAY back into the archives - I remember the review that brought me to the site - Farago's Lotus Elise review back in 2002 I think. There are the Lieberman reviews as well before he left and now we see him online and on TV. Now I'm trying to remember the names of the first group of reviewers here...
  • SCE to AUX Few things are as boring as watching electric cars race.
  • Bru65688995 I owned a 1965 Monza convertible. Had a blast until I could afford a 1967 SS396 Chevelle.