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VW Set to Plead Guilty as Buyback Accelerates

Court move would lock down $4.3b criminal settlement.

by on Mar.10, 2017

A new VW Arteon prototype makes its debut at this week's Geneva Motor Show.

Volkswagen is expected to plead guilty in U.S. District Court in Detroit today, wrapping up a settlement with the federal government for cheating on diesel emissions tests.

The move follows a series of civil settlements, and will cost the automaker $4.3 billion, the figure announced in January at a news conference by government regulators just days before the end of the Obama Administration. Seven current and former Volkswagen employees have faced criminal charges for their role in the diesel rigging, though one has already pleads guilty. Only one of the others is currently in custody.

Beyond the Headlines!

All told, the German automaker has so far agreed to spend more than $20 billion in civil and criminal fines and other costs. It is currently ramping up the buyback of around 475,000 2.0-liter diesels equipped with so-called a “defeat device” meant to reduce emissions during emissions testing. A separate deal covers more than 40,000 vehicles with 3.0-liter turbodiesels, though VW believes it can repair some of those.


VW Chairman Now Under Investigation in Diesel Scandal

Board looks for ways to slash costs to cover billions burns by crisis.

by on Nov.07, 2016

VW Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch is the latest exec caught up in the diesel emissions scandal.

The trans-Atlantic criminal probe into Volkswagen’s diesel rigging has now targeted the German automaker’s top executive, Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch, the company confirmed over the weekend.

He joins a number of other senior executives – including ousted CEO Martin Winterkorn – who are facing investigation in the U.S. and Germany for their possible roles in VW’s effort to cheat on diesel emissions tests. Prior to his appointment in September 2015, Poetsch served at VW’s chief financial officer.

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The investigation of Poetsch and two other board members by prosecutors in the city of Braunschweig could complicate efforts by VW to move past the scandal. As reported last week, the automaker is moving closer to a settlement covering the second of two diesel engines Volkswagen has admitted rigging. Meanwhile, hoping to offset the roughly $20 billion it has already committed to pay out due to the scandal, VW board members on Friday laid out extensive cost-cutting plans.


Pleading Guilty, VW Engineer Will Cooperate in Diesel Investigation

James Liang helped develop emissions test-cheating software.

by on Sep.09, 2016

VW diesel engineer James Liang could help investigators trace who was responsible for the emissions cheating scandal. Photos courtesy WDIV.

A long-time Volkswagen engineer has pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with Volkswagen’s diesel emissions test cheating scandal, and 62-year-old James Robert Liang now plans to cooperate with the U.S. Justice Department’s ongoing criminal investigation.

Liang, who is a German native but also has a house in Newberry Park, California, spent 25 years working in the VW Diesel Development Department. During his assignment, the automaker found itself unable to deliver on a goal of boosting fuel economy and performance while driving down emissions, so Liang and his colleagues came up with software meant to temporarily cut pollutants during emissions tests.

The Last Word!

“Mr. Liang came to Detroit today to accept responsibility for his actions,” one of his attorneys said outside the U.S. District Court in Detroit where Liang entered his guilty plea. “He is one of many people at Volkswagen who got caught up in this emissions scandal and he’s very remorseful for what occurred.”


VW Delays 2015 Earnings Results, Annual Shareholders’ Meeting

Labor boss will “hold management responsible” for making needed changes.

by on Feb.05, 2016

Audi has submitted a plan to US officials for fixing the diesel engines in models like the Q7.

With management still trying to get a full grip on the diesel emissions cheating scandal that has rocked the world’s second-largest automaker, Volkswagen says it will delay the release of its 2015 earnings, as well as its annual shareholders meeting.

It is also unclear when VW will now publish the results of an internal investigation into the ongoing crisis. The report was to have been released in time for the company’s annual meeting. Leaked details have hinted that the subterfuge was an “open secret,” resulting from a corporate culture in which failure to meet even the most difficult goals was not an option.

Global News!

The annual shareholders meeting was scheduled for April 21, but VW said it will announce new dates for the gathering and the release of its earnings, explaining that it first must deal with “remaining open questions and the resulting valuation calculations relating to the diesel emissions issue.”


Diesel Cheating An Open Secret at VW – or Was It?

CEO Mueller disputes reports, denies managers involved.

by on Jan.29, 2016

Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller.

It was an open secret within Volkswagen’s engineering department that the maker was cheating on diesel emissions testing, according to a report in an influential German newspaper.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung report contends that a number of managers, as well as their staff either knew about, or were directly involved in, the efforts to create a so-called “defeat device” intended to fool emissions testers into believing VW’s 2.0-liter turbodiesel complied with tough U.S. emissions mandates. But a culture of collective secrecy kept engineers from advising corporate executives of the problems they faced.

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“Within the company there was a culture of ‘we can do everything’, so to say something cannot be done, was not acceptable,” Sueddeutsche Zeitung said, claiming to quote comments from a whistleblower who came clean as part of an ongoing, internal investigation within Volkswagen.


VW CEO Insists the Maker “Didn’t Lie”

California regulators reject proposed diesel emissions fix.

by on Jan.13, 2016

Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller.

Even as he continues to apologize for the diesel emissions scandal embroiling his company, Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller has touched off another firestorm with comments he made this week in Detroit, insisting that the maker “didn’t lie.”

Mueller’s comments, made to NPR at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, came the same day regulators in California rejected the fix Volkswagen had proposed for close to 500,000 diesel vehicles equipped with a so-called “defeat device” designed to help it illegally pass U.S. emissions tests.

Keeping Things Honest!

“We had not the right interpretation of American law,” Mueller said in an interview with the network. “We didn’t lie. We didn’t understand the question first. And then we worked since 2014 to solve the problem. And we did it together and it was a default of VW that it needed such a long time.”


VW May Have to Buy Back Over 100,000 U.S. Diesel Cars

Emissions fix for others could be complex, costly, slow.

by on Jan.07, 2016

VW brand boss Herbert Diess again apologized for the diesel scandal on Tuesday in Las Vegas.

Increasingly desperate to find an acceptable fix for the diesel emissions scandal impacting about 500,000 vehicles sold in the United States, Volkswagen may be forced to buy back more than 100,000 of those cars, according to a news report from Germany.

Many of the others might face extensive mechanical updates that would be complex, costly and slow to complete, according to a report in the Sueddeustsche Zeitung. But Herbert Diess, the CEO of the Volkswagen brand told this week that some of the most recent models might require only a “fix with the software.”


One way or the other, “Our most important task in 2016 is to solve the diesel issue in the U.S.,” said the executive, following a keynote presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.


Regulators in US, Germany Crack Down on Emissions, Mileage Testing

Dozens of vehicles brought back for new testing in wake of VW scandal.

by on Nov.11, 2015

A Z71 version of the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel which won a 31 mpg EPA highway rating.

Not so fast. When General Motors asked the Environmental Protection Agency to issue its official fuel economy rating on the new Chevrolet Colorado Duramax diesel pickup, the agency took a little longer than expected, EPA officials asking if they could keep the test truck a bit longer than normal, says Mark Reuss, GM’s global product development chief.

The EPA is taking a much more careful approach when it comes to testing for emissions and fuel economy, Reuss and other industry officials tell And U.S. regulators are not alone. Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority says it will run new tests on dozens of vehicles sold in that country to ensure they comply with diesel emissions standards.

Insider News!

Those moves come in the wake of revelations – first announced by the U.S. EPA on September 18th – that Volkswagen AG had cheated on emissions testing for vehicles equipped with the maker’s 2.0-liter EA 189 diesel engine. A total of 482,000 of those vehicles were sold in the U.S., 11 million worldwide. Since then, VW has admitted to other emissions “irregularities.”


Investors Flee VW, Takata

Scandals taking a big financial toll.

by on Nov.05, 2015

Takata's stock is suddenly deflating like a used airbag.

Hammered by safety and emissions scandals, investors are running scared and abandoning auto manufacturing giant Volkswagen AG and industry supplier Takata Corp.

And the exodus has only exited this week in the wake of new problems for the two companies that have raised questions about how VW and Takata will operate going forward. Some analysts are questioning whether VW may have to sell off some of its dozen brands while questions are mounting about whether the Japanese supplier can survive at all.

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Takata was hammered this week by one of the largest fines ever levied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, while VW saw new allegations of cheating on emissions tests by the Environmental Protection Agency.


VW Finds “Irregularities” With 800,000 More Cars

This time, gas and diesel engines affected.

by on Nov.03, 2015

VW says it may have "irregularities" in the emissions and fuel economy numbers on 800,000 vehicles.

Volkswagen has revealed an internal audit has found “irregularities” with the emissions – and possibly the fuel economy numbers — involving another 800,000 vehicles sold worldwide.

Significantly, the latest problem appears to impact gasoline vehicles, as well as those using diesel engines. According to the German maker, the cost of repairing the newly discovered problems could add another 2 billion euros, or nearly $2.2 billion, to the maker’s tab, on top of the $7.3 billion it has already set aside to cover the emissions cheating scandal first revealed in mid-September.

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“From the very start I have pushed hard for the relentless and comprehensive clarification of events,” said Matthias Mueller, who was named CEO after the crisis began. “We will stop at nothing and nobody. This is a painful process, but it is our only alternative. For us, the only thing that counts is the truth.”