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Judge Approves $2.8 bil VW Criminal Penalty

Largest criminal fine in U.S. history.

by on Apr.21, 2017

"A very serious and troubling case involving an iconic automobile company," said Judge Sean Cox.

A federal judge in Detroit Friday signed off on what could be one of the last big developments in the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, ordering the German maker to pay a $2.8 billion criminal penalty negotiated as part of a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department last January.

The ruling now brings to around $30 billion the costs VW will incur after being caught rigging two of its diesel engines to illegal pass U.S. emissions tests – a figure that includes the price of buying back almost 500,000 vehicles sold in the country. Meanwhile, seven current and former Volkswagen employees have been charged with crimes connected to the scandal, while an investigation continues in Germany.

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“I just can’t believe that VW is in this situation that it finds itself in today,” said Judge Sean Cox, calling it a “very serious and troubling case involving an iconic automobile company.”

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VW Reveals I.D. Crozz, Promises to Launch Battery Car in China

Battery SUV is third I.D. concept.

by on Apr.18, 2017

Volkswagen's third concept vehicle in the I.D. EV line-up is the I.D. Crozz. The ute could be VW's first EV entry into China.

Volkswagen has pulled the wraps off the third of its I.D. battery-car concept vehicles, offering a hint of what might be in store when it launches its first electric vehicle in China later this year.

VW brand boss Herbert Diess has already promised to put 30 battery models into production by 2025, and many of them are expected to carry the new I.D. sub-brand badge. The German automaker is largely shifting from diesel to battery power in the wake of its emissions scandal. But it is also facing pressure from governments around the world – China, in particular – to adopt new zero-emissions technologies.

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So far, VW isn’t saying which battery model will be launched in China this year. It is likely that it will go with an existing product, such as the e-Golf. But Diess is suggesting that the new I.D. Crozz is being viewed as more than just a concept, with the battery-SUV likely to reach showrooms no later than 2020. (more…)

Volkswagen Spending $300M to Begin Electrifying America

New effort to install chargers in 11 markets part of $15B settlement. 

by on Apr.17, 2017

Volkswagen is getting ready to build $300 million worth of new EV chargers in 11 markets.

Volkswagen is making the first “payment” on its $15 billion settlement with the United States as it unveiled its spending $300 million on new chargers for electric vehicles through its Electrify America subsidiary.

The company is planning to build “hundreds” of charging stations with non-proprietary chargers in 11 different markets: Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, Raleigh, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Many of those stations will be along well-traveled highway corridors.

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The program is expected to grow to more than 300 stations in 15 markets. The idea behind the project is to further stimulate interest in electric vehicles by cutting down on the largest problem facing EV sellers: range anxiety. (more…)

VW Launches “Best” SUV Warranty on New Atlas, Tiguan Models

It’s all in the fine print.

by on Apr.12, 2017

The new VW Atlas.

Long the laggard in the booming SUV market, Volkswagen is playing an aggressive game of catch-up, launching several new models and now, just in time for the annual New York International Auto Show, announcing what it is billing as the “best SUV bumper-to-bumper warranty” in the American market.

Of course, it always pays to read the fine print, and what’s significant about the new VW warranty is that it is transferable when the vehicle is sold. That’s not insignificant, as some programs, such as the 10-year coverage from Hyundai, applies only to the initial owner.

Best of the Best!

The new 72-month/72,000 mile program applies to both the new version of the Volkswagen Tiguan, as well as the larger, all-new VW Atlas, both 2018 models. Those models are critical additions to the German maker’s line-up considering utility vehicles now account for about 40% of total U.S. new vehicle sales.

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All in the Family: VW Reveals 2018 Golf Range Ahead of NY Debut

Updated design paired with new safety, infotainment tech.

by on Apr.11, 2017

The 2018 VW Golf R.

The Volkswagen Golf has grown into an extended family over the years, from the standard compact hatchback to sporty models such as the GTI and Golf R, the battery-powered e-Golf, and the functional, flexible SportWagen and AllTrack models. And the entire line-up will undergo some notable updates for 2018.

The public will get a first, formal look at the refreshed line-up at this week’s New York International Auto Show, but VW is already offering the inside story to media gathering in the Big Apple. And what it has in store for buyers includes some modest styling tweaks, as well as new safety and infotainment technologies.

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Long one of the world’s best-selling cars, the Volkswagen Golf could use a little boost, especially in the U.S., where VW is struggling to move past its diesel emissions scandal and where passenger cars – especially compact models – have been losing momentum in a market fixated on SUVs.

The highlights of the 2018 Golf family story? (more…)

VW Gets EPA Approval to Sell Off Remaining 2015 Diesels

German maker reaches agreement with 10 states over enviro claims.

by on Mar.30, 2017

Volkswagen can now sell the "new" diesels that have sitting in limbo since the EPA ordered them to stop selling the vehicles in fall 2015.

Volkswagen has reached an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency that will allow it to sell off about 67,000 diesel vehicles that have been in limbo since the EPA accused the German maker of cheating on emissions tests in September 2015.

The EPA previously approved a fix for about 70,000 VW diesel vehicles already in consumer hands. But the carmaker will still have to repurchase roughly 500,000 vehicles using its 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesel engines that cannot be brought into compliance with Clear Air Act standards.

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Separately, VW on Thursday said that it had reached an agreement with 10 states about environmental and consumer claims related to the diesel emissions scandal. The deal will cost the maker an estimated $157.45 million, but in a statement, VW said, it “avoids further prolonged and costly litigation,” and will let the carmaker “work to earn back the trust of its customers, regulators and the public.” (more…)

U.S. Market the Big Battleground for Toyota, Volkswagen

Japanese maker regains lead in global sales.

by on Mar.29, 2017

Toyota is counting big sales results from the RAV4 in the United States. The maker has regained the global sales lead it lost to Volkswagen last year.

The battle of the titans has taken a new turn this year. After toppling Toyota as the global king-of-the-hill in 2016, Volkswagen is again finding itself back in second place in the global sales sweepstakes this year.

Toyota saw a real surge in global demand during the first two months of the year. On the other hand, VW lost momentum, especially in the massive Chinese market, where it has long been the leader.

Global Auto News!

But the real, long-term test could come in the U.S. market where Toyota has been a traditional powerhouse, and VW is still struggling to reverse the significant sales losses it experienced in the wake of the September 2015 revelation that it had rigged more than 500,000 diesel vehicles sold in the States. In contrast to global trends, VW is now regaining American momentum while Toyota is the one struggling. (more…)

VW’s Schmidt Ordered to Remain in US

Judge agreed former manager was a flight risk.

by on Mar.16, 2017

Former VW executive Oliver Schmidt was ordered to remain in the U.S. after being deemed a flight risk. He's confined to his Michigan home.

Oliver Schmidt, one of seven Volkswagen AG executive charged with crimes in the U.S. related to the maker’s diesel-emission rigging scandal, will remain in custody after judge agreed with prosecutors that he was a flight risk.

Schmidt, who worked at VW’s engineering center in Auburn Hills, Michigan before the scandal came to light, was arrested in January in Miami as he was traveling from Cuba to Germany. The ruling, which confines Schmidt to his home in Michigan, came despite more than $1.6 million in cash and assets were raised by family and friends for bail.

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“The allegations of fraud and conspiracy in this case are very, very serious,” Judge Sean Cox of the U.S. District Court for Eastern Michigan, said, according to Reuters. “There is a serious risk that Mr. Schmidt will not appear in this case.” (more…)

Marchionne Changes Course, Claims No Interest in VW Tie-Up

However, FCA's CEO did say he would listen to any pitch from VW.

by on Mar.16, 2017

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne says he's not interested in a merger with Volkswagen.

After preaching for years about the need for a broad consolidation in the global automobile industry, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has reversed course or perhaps gotten cold feet.

Following a meeting with President Donald Trump, Marchionne told reporters that he had no interest in pursuing a possible merger with Volkswagen, the world’s largest automaker and the top automaker in Europe where FCA’s European brands are facing the potential of more intense competition from combination of Opel/Vauxhall and PSA.

Global Auto News!

Once the PSA takeover of Opel/Vauxhall is completed later this year, it will be the second-largest carmaker in Europe. (more…)

German Prosecutors Raid VW, Audi Offices

Probe expands as Audi and VW execs come under closer scrutiny.

by on Mar.15, 2017

German prosecutors raided Volkswagen and Audi offices recently as part of an ongoing investigation into the diesel-rigging scandal.

Even as the criminal and civil cases against Volkswagen over its rigging of diesel engines wind down in the U.S., German prosecutors are ramping up their own probe – which could lead to additional criminal charges against current and former VW officials, including one-time CEO Martin Winterkorn.

The latest twist comes as the embattled automaker confirms that prosecutors had launched raids at VW headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, as well as the offices of its semi-independent Audi subsidiary near Munich.

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“The execution of the search warrants is meant to clarify which persons were involved in the use of the relevant technology and, where applicable, were involved in providing inaccurate information to third parties,” said Munich prosecutor Ken Heidenreich, in a statement announcing the move against Audi’s offices. (more…)