April has brought good news to diesel lovers and haters on both sides of the border.
After spending the winter (and the better part of last fall) jealously eyeing their southern neighbor’s buyback and compensation program, Canadian owners can now apply for that longed-for envelope of Volkswagen cash, as well as a one-way-ticket to hell for their emissions-rigged TDI model.
On Friday, the automaker settled court cases in Ontario and Quebec, paving the way for a 2.0-liter diesel settlement program that starts next week. The models involved are the same as in the U.S. — 105,000 units in all — and owners and lessees face similar choices as their American counterparts.
Unlike the recent shadowy roll-out of half-fixed 2015 models in the U.S., several Canadian dealers are proudly advertising the availability of “new” TDIs.
Oh my God, it’s finally almost over. After a 10-year conspiracy and almost 600,000 rigged diesel cars, VW’s legal battle with the United States is coming to an end. Volkswagen pled guilty last month to conspiracy to commit fraud and the obstruction of justice after it was caught cheating on emissions tests in 2015, and we’ve been eagerly waiting the verdict and subsequent punishment.
Today, a U.S. judge ordered the automaker to observe three years of probation and shell out a $2.8 billion criminal fine. The sum, which Steph Willems has informed me equates to 135,168 VW Golfs — after delivery and rounding up to the closest car — is in addition to the company’s $1.5 billion in civil penalties, $4.7 billion in mandatory anti-pollution initiatives, and $11.2 billion diesel buyback program.
Angry phone calls from Volkswagen diesel owners eager for settlement cash are on the decline, while the amount of money paid for doomed TDI models has ballooned in recent months.
A status update filed by the automaker paints a clearer picture of where the arduous process stood at the end of February, with most of America’s diesel owners opting for a buyback or lease termination in addition to compensation cash.
Still, taking the nearly 500,000 rigged 2.0-liter vehicles off the road hasn’t been an easy one.
If you’ve felt left out of the Volkswagen diesel affair until now, chin up. You’ll soon be able to purchase your very own piece of automotive scandal history.
The Environmental Protection Agency has approved the sale of 2015 Volkswagen Group vehicles equipped with Generation 3 2.0-liter diesel engines, making this the first time any of the half-million-plus sidelined vehicles have been legally available to customers since the scandal began.
The contrarian’s list of unlikely daily drivers just grew a bit longer.
Earlier this week, we reported on an influx of complaints from diesel owners who were required by law to permit Volkswagen to rectify their emission rigged engines. The consensus was that the company has not done a great job. If a veterinarian fixed a pet in the same manner that VW “fixed” these cars, you would probably put it out of its misery and then throttle the vet for butchering your now-ruined family companion.
Owners of the vehicles have complained of units lacking their former oomph, shuddering, stalling, and even being difficult to restart. While not every driver reported identical problems, the majority agreed Volkswagen had ravaged the engines’ ability to make power. At the time, nobody knew exactly how extensive the losses were. But, as the powerband-sapping solution closes in on North America, those numbers have come in.
Volkswagen’s U.S. diesel woes have consumed most of the oxygen in the room for the past year and a half, but Europe has its own issues with the automaker’s emissions-spewing powerplants.
While owners on the continent haven’t had to hand their vehicle over in exchange for cash, the region’s less-stringent environmental laws still require that VW offer a fix for its rigged diesel engines. Good news for air quality, but bad news — apparently — for drivers. Many owners have discovered the fix turns a perfectly fine (though illegal) vehicle into a nightmare.
At some point, a scandal grows so big that investigations begin to overlap. When the scope widens even more, investigators suddenly begin investigating each other.
That’s the current situation in the Fatherland, where American law firm Jones Day recently had its offices raided at the request of German authorities in hot pursuit of executive skulduggery. Jones Day, of course, is the internal investigator hired by VW to probe the shady dealings that led to the diesel emissions scandal.
What started with unusual emissions readings at a West Virginia university now feels a lot like The Departed.
Suspecting that a Volkswagen executive might fly the coop if released on bond while awaiting trial, a U.S. District Court judge slammed the cell door shut until early next year.
Oliver Schmidt, who was arrested early this year during a stopover in Miami, is currently cooling his heels in a Detroit jail after being slapped with conspiracy and fraud charges relating to the diesel emissions scandal. With a potential jail sentence of 169 years looming over his head, even $1.6 million ponied up by family and friends wasn’t enough to secure his release.
The Volkswagen diesel emissions saga has reached a logical legal conclusion. The automaker entered a guilty plea in a Detroit federal courtroom this morning, admitting to a vast, 10-year conspiracy to fool environmental regulators through the use of emissions-cheating defeat devices.
As penance, Volkswagen AG must now pay $4.3 billion in criminal fines and civil penalties. That sum can now be added to the multi-billion U.S. buyback of hundreds of thousands of 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesel vehicles manufactured since 2009. While the penalties would be a bitter pill for any automaker to swallow, it’s a fraction of the fine allowed under federal guidelines.
Had the court pursued it, it might have sparked a brand fire sale down at Volkswagen Group.
There’s no end to the layers of intrigue swirling around the upper echelons of Audi.
Last week saw four engineers who worked on the company’s emissions-rigged diesel engines fired, with one of them, former engine development chief Ulrich Weiss, claiming in court that CEO Rupert Stadler was privy to the deception.
Audi fired back with a lawsuit threat against one or more individuals for “baseless accusations” and the revealing of internal documents. Now, the German publication Bild has released information on a potentially damning document that was reportedly locked away in Weiss’s safe since 2015 for exactly this purpose.
Weiss pulled out the document in a German labor court Tuesday to prove he’s the “pawn” his lawyer claims.
Politicians from Volkswagen’s home region of Lower Saxony are raising questions over the unanticipated departure of the German automaker’s compliance chief, Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt, saying they have concerns over how the supervisory board handled the matter. There has been a long-standing apprehension among investors and business analysts that VW is too tightly controlled by its founding Porsche-Piech family and incapable of amelioration.
On Wednesday, Deutsche lawmakers called for a formal inquiry on the matter.
Hohmann-Dennhardt was brought aboard very late in 2015 to assist in Volkswagen’s reformation following the diesel emissions cheating scandal. However last month, after only a year on the job, she left abruptly with a sizable pension and gargantuan severance.
Audi appears to be going on the defensive and closing ranks around its CEO following a tumultuous week filled with accusations and revelations.
Late last week, the automaker fired four top engineers who worked on the brand’s diesel technology, including head of engine development Ulrich Weiss. Germany’s Handelsblatt reports that Weiss, who has been on paid leave since the diesel emissions scandal erupted, presented documents in court that appeared to show CEO Rupert Stadler had knowledge of the defeat devices as early as 2012.
Audi is now seeking charges against one or more individuals for “baseless accusations,” as well as revealing internal documents. Unfortunately for the automaker, another German media outlet has gotten its hands on an infamous PowerPoint presentation.
U.S. owners of illegally polluting Volkswagen diesels have already flown to sunny vacation spots or picked up a new vehicle with the help of buyback and compensation checks. North of the border, over 100,000 Canadians who own a 2009-2016 TDI model are waiting for their cut of a $2.1 billion settlement.
However, Volkswagen’s “we’re sorry” gravy train isn’t rolling into everyone’s driveway. Some owners are finding that their vehicles are stuck in a cross-border limbo.
Ferdinand Piëch, former chairman of Volkswagen and grandson of Beetle creator Ferdinand Porsche, is in hot water with his former company.
The ex-chairman resigned in April 2015 — five months before the diesel emissions scandal broke — after the company’s steering committee put his future to a vote. Piëch lost after his rival, then-CEO Martin Winterkorn, saw VW management rally to his side.
A suspiciously hostile divide existed between both men at the time, and recent comments by Piëch may explain why the two doomed executives became such bitter enemies. To say that VW’s supervisory board isn’t happy with his comments would be an understatement.
Owners of certain Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche vehicles caught up in the diesel emissions scandal will receive hefty payouts, even if their vehicles aren’t bought back by the manufacturer.
Volkswagen and supplier Robert Bosch GmbH have agreed to a settlement worth a combined $1.55 billion, Reuters reports. The agreement covers about 80,000 vehicles outfitted with emissions-cheating 3.0-liter diesel V6 engines — 20,000 of which will return to the automaker for good.
While parting with a beloved luxury vehicle can be difficult, cold hard cash has a way of softening the emotional blow.
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