Tag: Dieselgate

By on September 11, 2018

Volkswagen VW Badge Emblem Logo

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.” (Read More…)

By on September 7, 2018

VW logo, Image: Volkswagen

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.  (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2018

VW logo, Image: Volkswagen

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.  (Read More…)

By on July 19, 2018

Image: Audi AG

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. (Read More…)

By on July 10, 2018

VW logo, Image: Volkswagen

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. (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2018

Volkswagen VW Badge Emblem Logo

In 2017, the U.S. hit Volkswagen with a $4.3 billion fine as part of the company’s plea agreement for violating of the Clean Air Act. It was a rough ride for the automaker, caught using defeat devices on its diesel engines, but it brought the scandal more or less to a close in America.

An ocean away, it seemed nothing would come of the endless raids by German authorities on VW-owned facilities. Apparently, the wheels of justice just turn a little slower in Europe, as the automaker was fined 1 billion euros on Wednesday. It’s one of the largest financial penalties ever imposed on a company by German authorities.  (Read More…)

By on May 8, 2018

Herbert Diess Jetta 2017

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. (Read More…)

By on May 7, 2018

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.  (Read More…)

By on May 3, 2018

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.  (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2018

Volkswagen VW Badge Emblem Logo

While companies are often found guilty of sketchy and illicit behavior, it’s becoming increasingly difficult not to feel some measure of sympathy for German automakers. The same goes for the government officials whose job it is to repeatedly raid the homes and offices of people employed by those manufacturers. Once gain, German prosecutors have searched both Volkswagen and BMW over diesel-related shenanigans.

Volkswagen saw 13 of its offices raided in Wolfsburg throughout the month of March. Braunschweig-based authorities seized physical and digital files in the hopes of catching the automaker in a lie from 2015. At the time, VW claimed an in-house investigation found it had understated fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions on no more than 36,000 vehicles. Considering the diesel emissions scandal affected far more vehicle than this, as well as the company’s much higher earlier estimate, prosecutors hope to catch the company out.

Meanwhile, BMW saw its facilities searched over suspicions that it employed a defeat device to circumvent diesel emission testing. The automaker said authorities were looking into “erroneously allocated” software on the BMW 750d and BMW M550d.  (Read More…)

By on February 27, 2018

Mercedes-Benz BlueTEC

Thanks to years of governmental promotion, Europe is still awash with diesel-powered passenger vehicles. However, in the wake of emission scandals and research suggesting diesel fumes might not be all that great to inhale, the region has changed its mind. It has gotten to a point where entire countries are now aiming to ban all internal combustion engines as local municipalities try to put the kibosh on diesels as soon as possible.

In Germany, birthplace of the diesel engine, this led to many asking if towns even had the right to regulate what people drove. According to a recent ruling from the nation’s highest administrative court, they absolutely do. With a precedent now set in Europe’s auto manufacturing hub, citywide diesel bans are likely to catch on — not only in Germany, but across the continent. Our condolences if you’re living east of the Atlantic and wanted to sell your diesel secondhand.  (Read More…)

By on February 19, 2018

public domain

Europe’s love affair with diesel engines is fading faster than a VHS tape left sitting beneath the summer sun in a car’s rear window. Encouraged by automakers, European governments incentivized diesel cars in the 1990s by taxing them at a far lower rate and suppressing the price of the fuel they burned. Studies came out claiming that diesel’s below-average CO2 emissions could even help with air quality. By 2012, diesel models made up 55 percent of Europe’s passenger vehicle market.

Things certainly have changed. Now concerned primarily with smog-producing NOx output, health and safety advocates have called diesel a menace to society. The EU has been pressing automakers to abandon the fuel by adopting much more restrictive emissions regulations for passenger cars. Volkswagen’s emission scandal further complicated things, prompting cities to call for a total ban on certain vehicles.

However, Germany still has to decide whether the mandates are even legal — and the decision comes this Thursday. (Read More…)

By on February 18, 2018

2017 Mercedes-Benz C350e grille hood ornament - Image: Mercedes-Benz

U.S. investigators have found what could be illegal software modifications on Mercedes-Benz diesels intended to help the vehicles pass emissions testing. An engine management function called Slipguard recognized whether the car was undergoing testing procedures while another, called Bit 15, halted emissions cleaning after roughly 16 miles of driving. Together, the two pieces of software may amount to what is known within the industry as a “defeat device.”

When paired the software apparently enabled the cars to produce NOx levels up to 10 times higher than what is legally permitted. Interestingly, Mercedes-Benz issued a voluntary recall upon roughly 3 million European cars last month to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by tweaking their electronic control units.  (Read More…)

By on January 30, 2018

Volkswagen VW Badge Emblem Logo

Volkswagen AG suspended chief lobbyist Thomas Steg on Tuesday as its “first consequences as a result of animal tests.” If you’ll recall, German automakers were faulted with funding experiments on monkeys (and also people) that haven’t gone over well in the media. Both Daimler and VW say they will conduct investigations to get to the bottom of how something like this could have happened.

At its meeting today, Volkswagen Group’s Board of Management accepted a proposal made by Steg, who heads external relations and sustainability, that he be suspended until a full investigation is completed.

“We are currently in the process of investigating the work of the EUGT, which was dissolved in 2017, and drawing all the necessary consequences. Mr. Steg has declared that he will assume full responsibility. I respect his decision,” said Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller in a statement(Read More…)

By on January 29, 2018

Exhaust pipe of running vehicle, Image: By Ruben de Rijcke (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Over the weekend, we reported that German automakers funded research where monkeys were exposed to diesel exhaust fumes from an emissions-cheating VW Beetle. Volkswagen Group, Daimler and BMW all condemned the study — claiming to be appalled by the logistics employed for research they were funding.

Apparently, the situation is a little darker than we first thought. In addition to gassing 10 monkeys, the group hired by automakers to prove the worth of diesel was also testing on human beings. The European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT) had 25 people inhaling a gaseous byproduct of diesel combustion at a clinic used by the University of Aachen in 2016. (Read More…)

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