Tag: Dieselgate

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…)

By on January 28, 2018

monkey paw

German automakers were faulted with animal cruelty after details emerged that the European Research Group (EUGT) on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector had been gassing monkeys with diesel fumes this week. While this is probably the least egregious example of a German gas chamber in let’s say the last seventy years or so, it doesn’t change the fact that there remain some extremely negative connotations.

People don’t like the idea of testing on animals, especially not cute ones that look like us. Germany may not be taking the full-blame on this faux pas in morality, however. EUGT had commissioned the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute (LRRI) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to establish if diesel exhaust fumes were carcinogenic — and that’s where ten monkeys were isolated in airtight chambers, inhaling fumes from a diesel Volkswagen Beetle as they watched cartoons.  (Read More…)

By on January 10, 2018

2017 Ford F-350 Super Duty King Ranch - Image: Ford

Are you an automaker that’s currently producing, or has ever produced, a diesel engine? If so, the odds are pretty good you’ll eventually be sued over its existence. A new lawsuit by truck owners, filed on Wednesday, alleges Ford Motor Company installed emissions-cheating software in F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks — built between 2011 and 2017 — to ensure they passed federal testing.

At this point, all of the Detroit Three manufacturers have been accused of some form of diesel deceit. Which makes us wonder how warranted these lawsuits are. Volkswagen’s scandal started when an independent source tipped off U.S. regulatory agencies, but these truck cases frequently begin as class-action suits on somewhat specious grounds.  (Read More…)

By on December 29, 2017

Volkswagen VW Badge Emblem Logo

Volkswagen Group said on Thursday that it would be petitioning Germany’s constitutional court to overturn the appointment of a special auditor to investigate the actions of its management during its diesel emissions scandal. Appointed last November, the auditor’s goal is to establish whether or not VW’s top brass withheld information about the manipulation of vehicle emissions as they related to testing.

Even thought the automaker has said it wanted to improve transparency shortly after the scandal kicked off in September of 2015, Volkswagen wants the work of the auditor suspended prior to the constitutional-court hearing against it. This begs the question: Does VW still have something to hide or is it so fed up with the litigation surrounding “dieselgate” that it’ll do just about anything to keep officials from dredging up the past?  (Read More…)

By on December 18, 2017

electrify-america-ev-charging-station, Electrify America

Volkswagen Group has been a quite the busy bee when it comes to bolstering EV charging infrastructure. In addition to breaking ground on Europe’s new fast-charging network before the end of this year (with help from Daimler, BMW, and Ford), the brand’s Electrify America subsidiary is preparing to fulfill a court order that will force it to live up to its name.

A signification portion of VW’s emissions scandal penance involves investment into eco-centric technologies and the beefing up of the United States’ electric vehicle infrastructure. So, on Monday the company announced plans to install 2,800 EV charging stations in 17 of the largest U.S. cities by June of 2019. (Read More…)

By on December 13, 2017

Q7 e-tron

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler has announced his company will dismantle the task force assigned to investigate how many of its diesel cars came equipped with defeat devices. The company established the team after Volkswagen Group admitted to selling 11 million diesel models, through its various brands, with illegal engine management software that hid peak NOx emissions during testing.

Even though Volkswagen has found itself smack-dab in the center of another costly controversy, Stadler claims that Audi is on the cusp of wrapping up its own diesel crisis. “We will have documented and processed all the engine/transmission combinations by the end of the first quarter 2018,” the CEO told journalists at Audi’s headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany, this week.  (Read More…)

By on December 12, 2017

[Image: Audi AG]

Like an overspending spouse whose partner has commanded they sell their toys to pay off debts, Volkswagen put all its options on the table earlier this year in a bid to raise some cash.

After mulling a sale of Ducati during the darkest days of Dieselgate, VW now plans to hang on to the brand. Recently taking action to curb costs and cut red tape, chief executive Rupert Stadler said the company is “gradually increasing our financial and organizational leeway.” Sounds like VW has found a few more coins amid the couch cushions.

(Read More…)

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