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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.

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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…)

FCA, VW, Patching up Differences, Could See Joint Opportunities

Volkswagen CEO opens door to “conversation.”

by on Mar.15, 2017

VW CEO Matthias Mueller has been struggling to dig the maker out of its diesel scandal.

Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller, apparently picking up on recent comments by his counterpart at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, opened the door to “a conversation” on Tuesday, something some observers suggest could lead to merger talks between the two companies.

Mueller’s comment, which was made during a news conference called to discuss VW earnings, came barely a week after CEO Sergio Marchionne said a merger between FCA and some other manufacturer “will happen” in the coming years.

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Talk of mergers, acquisitions and alliances in the global auto industry has escalated in the wake of General Motors’ decision to sell its long-troubled German-based Opel/Vauxhall unit to France’s PSA, the parent of the Peugeot and Citroen brands.

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VW Brand Profit Slammed by Diesel Emissions Scandal Costs

U.S. remains "core market," says CEO Mueller.

by on Mar.14, 2017

VW CEO Matthias Mueller holds the wireless fob for the Sedric robotic car at the Geneva Motor Show.

Volkswagen revealed a classic good news/bad news scenario on Tuesday morning. After reporting record group profits last month for 2016, the automaker now says operating earnings at the flagship VW brand took a sharp hit as a result of the maker’s diesel emissions scandal.

The automaker has so far agreed to spend nearly $25 billion on fines and settlements in the U.S. alone as a result of the scandal, and that doesn’t include a hefty increase in marketing costs since the diesel engine rigging was revealed in September 2015.

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Nonetheless, Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Mueller put a positive outlook on the maker’s current situation, insisting it was “back on track” after one of the worst crises in its eight-decade history. Mueller himself took home 7.8 million euros, or $8.5 million, in pay and other forms of compensation for 2016.

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Volkswagen Pleads Guilty to Three Felony Counts in Diesel Scandal

Judge agrees to consider motion from owners.

by on Mar.10, 2017

Volkswagen AG pleaded guilty to three felony counts in U.S. District Court in Detroit today.

This story has been updated with new information.

Volkswagen AG pleaded guilty to three felony counts in U.S. District court in Detroit as part of a $4.3 billion settlement with the Department of Justice.

The guilty pleas were a first for VW, which had never pleaded guilty to any criminal charges before — ever, according to VW officials.

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“Your honor, VW AG is pleading guilty to all three counts because it is guilty on all three counts,” said VW general counsel Manfred Doess while entering plea on the company’s behalf. He flew from Germany to Detroit for the trial. (more…)

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.

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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.

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Volkswagen Now Planning to Offer Two Tiguan Models in U.S.

VW keeping offering older, shorter model, alongside newer stretched version.

by on Mar.08, 2017

The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is the makers second new sport-utility coming to the U.S. market this year.

Long the laggard in the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. motor vehicle market, Volkswagen is racing to catch up, launching the all-new Atlas SUV and a complete makeover of its older Tiguan model.

Even those won’t be enough to help catch up with booming demand for utility vehicles, the German maker has concluded, so it has decided to not only launch the new Tiguan but continue selling the old model in the U.S., as well.

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“We will produce (both),” said Hinrich Woebcken, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, “because demand is so strong.” (more…)

VW Goes from Concept to Production with new Arteon Flagship

U.S. buyers will have to wait a year.

by on Mar.06, 2017

Volkswagen introduced its new flagship model, the Arteon, at the Geneva Motor Show today.

Larger and more lavish than Volkswagen’s midsize Passat, the all-new Arteon making its debut at the Geneva Motor Show will serve as the German maker’s new design and technology flagship.

First shown in concept form as the Sport Coupe Concept GTE at the 2015 Geneva show, the production version of the VW Arteon takes things a step beyond the old coupe-like Volkswagen CC, with what the German maker is billing as a more “progressive,” luxurious design, both inside and out. Add to that a broad complement of high-tech features, from the continuously adjustable suspension to its Digital Cockpit system.

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“Many of the features and details from the concept car have now made it into production,” said Elmar Lizharz, program manager for the new Arteon. (more…)

Fiat Chrysler Subpoenaed By Feds Over Diesel Emissions Allegations

VW spends nearly $3b on diesel buyback.

by on Mar.01, 2017

A Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.

The investigation of allegations Fiat Chrysler Automobiles cheated on diesel emissions is moving into high gear, the maker revealing he has received subpoenas from a variety of federal authorities.

The smallest of the Detroit automakers in January announced it was coming under investigation for allegedly rigging its diesel engines to pass tough U.S. emissions standards. FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne rejected those charges during a news conference at the North American International Auto Show.

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The FCA investigation ramps up just as Volkswagen begins to wrap up its own diesel emissions scandal. Court documents released this week revealed that the German maker has so far spend $2.9 billion to buy back vehicles sold in the U.S. using a rigged, 2.0-liter turbodiesel. VW set aside $10 billion for buybacks as part of a settlement with the government announced last July.

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