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  1. Volkswagen's decision to use illegal software on their diesel vehicles has been costing them dearly. Reuters reports that Volkswagen is setting aside an additional 2.5 billion Euros (about $2.95 billion) due to difficulties with fixing the affected diesel models, particularly with the hardware. "The reason is an increase in provisions relating to the buyback/retrofit program for 2.0l TDI vehicles, which is part of the settlements in North America that is proving to be far more technically complex and time consuming," the company said in a statement. This pushes the total bill to $30 billion. The news comes a day after German prosecutors arrested Wolfgang Hatz, former r&d head of Porsche and head of powertrain development for Audi and Volkswagen. Hatz is being questioned by prosecutors for his involvement in the diesel emission scandal. “Investors will understandably worry what else may be next,” said BNP Paribas analyst Stuart Pearson. This news brought the share price of Volkswagen down three percent. Source: Reuters
  2. There were concerns that Volkswagen would not be able to come up with a fix for their 1st-generation 2.0L TDI models that would meet the approval of various U.S. regulators. But never say never as the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board have given their approval for Volkswagen's proposed fix for 326,000 vehicles with this engine. Reuters reports the fix will involve Volkswagen making numerous upgrades to the hardware and software, including a new emissions catalyst. This will make these vehicles legal, but drop average fuel economy figures by 2 mpg. “To obtain this approval, VW submitted test data and technical information that demonstrates that the modification will reduce emissions without negatively affecting vehicle reliability or durability. VW will thoroughly identify any differences in vehicle attributes (such as fuel economy) so owners may make an informed choice,” said the EPA in a statement. Volkswagen still needs to come up with a resale plan for 2009-2014 TDI models that were bought back as part of their settlement. Reuters says a plan is due in the coming weeks. Source: Reuters
  3. Weeks before the Volkswagen diesel emission scandal came to light, several executives were reportedly warned about the possible costs during a meeting. German tabloid Bild am Sonntag reports that Oliver Schmidt, a Volkswagen executive that was arrested earlier this year in U.S., said the costs of diesel emission cheating could cost the company up to $18.5 billion during a presentation held on August 25, 2015. Those that attended the presentation included former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, VW's development chief at the time Heinz-Jakob Neusser, and Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess. This information comes from U.S. investigation documents obtained by the paper. The issue at hand is that German law requires a company publish any news dealing with the stock in a timely fashion. Volkswagen notified investors about the cheating on September 18, almost a month after this reported meeting. A number of Volkswagen investors have filed suit against the company due to the losses from the diesel emission scandal. German prosecutors are also investigating Volkswagen into possible market manipulation. Source: Bild am Sonntag via Reuters
  4. The diesel emission scandal has once again flared up as Audi stands accused of using illegal software on certain A7 and A8 TDI models. Yesterday, German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt announced that Audi employed illegal software to cheat emission tests on certain A7 and A8 models built between 2009 to 2013. The affected models are said to emit twice the legal limit of nitrogen oxides when the steering wheel is turned more than 15 degrees - a condition that would happen in the real world and not in the lab. German tabloid Bild reported that Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Mueller was summoned to the transport ministry. A ministry spokesman confirmed Muller's visit to Reuters. The ministry has requested the company to issue a recall on the two models - 24,000 in total with 14,000 of those registered in Germany - and set a deadline for June 12 for a plan to retrofit the vehicles with legal software. Audi did issue the recall last night and said it has a fix coming in July. According to a source, the issue deals with the interaction between transmission and engine control units and that a fix has been submitted to Germany's transportation watchdog, the KBA. Source: Deutsche Welle, Reuters
  5. Volkswagen was planning to publish the final report on the external investigation done by U.S. law firm Jones Day. But in a move that surprised no one, Volkswagen has decided not to publish it. "I’m aware that some of you wish for greater transparency. Often the publishing of a full report is demanded. To be clear: there is no written final report from Jones Day, nor will there be. I ask for your understanding that for legal reasons Volkswagen is prevented from publishing any such report," said VW Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch at the company's annual general meeting. Poetsch said Volkswagen would risk “massive fines" if the report was published. While Volkswagen has settled with the U.S. over the scandal, there are a number of civil cases against the company and other investigations ongoing. It should be noted Volkswagen used this same excuse last April when it announced that it would not publish the preliminary findings of its internal investigation. Unsurprisingly, this move has gotten a lot of heat from investors and government officials. Christian Strenger, a shareholder rights advocate, and German corporate governance expert said Volkswagen's management and directors need to "put all their cards on the table," as there is a legal back door that allows the company to publish new information. "Under the plea agreement, the U.S. has a right to see any findings and agree to them in advance," said Strenger. "Your reference to the statement of facts agreed in the U.S. is completely insufficient and almost insulting to all those who are interested in complete clarification of responsibilities." Louise Ellman, who led the UK Transport Select Committee in the investigation of the diesel emission scandal called Poetsch's comments "not credible". “We were told very clearly by VW that the report would be published in due course. Saying there is no report is not credible, it stretches the imagination too far and lets down consumers,” said Ellman to British paper, The Telegraph. But there might be more to Volkswagen's decision as to not wanting to publish this report. Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Poetsch and Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller are under investigation by Stuttgart prosecutors for market manipulation relating to the diesel emission mess. Then today, a source revealed to Bloomberg that Müller is under investigation for possibly withholding information about the scandal to Porsche SE shareholders. German weekly WirtschaftsWoche says the investigation stems from a complaint filed last July by BaFin, Germany’s Financial Supervisory Authority that linked several Porsche SE executives to possible market manipulation. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), The Telegraph, Bloomberg, WirtschaftsWoche
  6. You would think the stigma of the diesel emission scandal would keep people away from picking up a fixed Volkswagen TDI model, but you would be wrong. Reuters notes that in April, 12 percent of Volkswagen's sales were for TDI models (about 3,196 vehicles). This is quite impressive when you take into consideration that Volkswagen was only given the go-ahead to sell TDI models with the fix back in mid-April. But we have to wonder if this percentage would be the same if Volkswagen didn't put some enticing incentives on TDI vehicles. As we reported last month, Volkswagen is offering either 0% APR for up to 72 months and $5,000 cash bonus if you decide to buy or an $8,500 cash bonus if you lease. Source: Reuters
  7. One question that we have found ourselves wondering is who blew the whistle on the software cheat Volkswagen was using on their TDI models. A new book says it was someone at Volkswagen of America. Automotive News got their hands on Faster, Higher, Farther: The Volkswagen Scandal by New York Times reporter Jack Ewing. In the book, Ewing reveals that the head of VW’s Engineering and Environmental Office in the U.S., Stuart Johnson revealed the existence of the cheat to federal authorities. Johnson was the primary contact for the various regulation agencies in the U.S. and would be one of the people on the front lines when the scandal unfolded. In the book, CARB deputy executive director Alberto Ayala named Johnson as the person who revealed the existence of Volkswagen's illegal software. This revelation took place prior to a key meeting between CARB and Volkswagen on August 19, 2015. By revealing this information, Johnson was violating orders given by VW's higher ups. This meeting is mentioned in the federal indictment of Oliver Schmidt, a former VW executive who is facing 11 federal charges dealing with the scandal. Johnson is mentioned in the indictment as “Cooperating Witness 1.” The indictment also states the witness “has agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation in exchange for an agreement that the government will not prosecute CW1 in the United States.” Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  8. More good news for Volkswagen as the EPA has finally given the ok for the company to start selling repaired TDI vehicles. Bloomberg has learned from Volkswagen Group of America spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan that dealers can sell TDI models from the 2015 model year once they have been updated with new software. The fix will also include new hardware for the diesel engine, but dealers don't have to wait for the parts to come in early next year. "We are still finalizing the details of this program and will provide more information on its implementation at the appropriate time,” said Ginivan. It should be noted this is only a symbolic step as only 67,000 vehicles are eligible for this - 12,000 of which are currently sitting on dealer lots. The big question is whether or not anyone is interested in buying a Volkswagen TDI vehicle considering all of the trouble it has brought. Source: Bloomberg
  9. With Volkswagen buying back a large chunk of the 2.0L TDIs involved the diesel emission scandal, the question arises of where to store them. The answer according to the German automaker is they are storing them at "regional facilities." One of those regional facilities is the parking lot of the Pontiac Silverdome - former home to the Detroit Lions - in Pontiac, MI. However, the vehicles stored there find themselves in a bit of legal trouble. The Oakland Press reports that the City of Pontiac has filed a lawsuit against the owners of Silverdome, the Triple Investment Group for numerous violations in zoning, safety, and a municipal code dealing with the storage of vehicles; "a special exemption permit is needed for parking and exterior storage of vehicles." A hearing was planned last week, but was adjourned. “Our client is actively engaged and working with the city. We hope to resolve our differences with the city and we believe we are making good progress and working together. We are still waiting on a schedule for (the hearing) but we are hopeful that we will resolve the differences in the meantime and further hearings won’t be necessary,” said J. Patrick Lennon, a partner at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, the lawfirm representing Triple Investment Group. A Volkswagen spokeswoman told Automotive News the company is talking with their “service provider” to see if all of the permits that allow vehicles to be stored at the Silverdome are up to date. Source: The Oakland Press, Automotive News (Subscription Required) Pic Credit: WXYZ
  10. Today at U.S. District Court in Detroit, Volkswagen pleaded guilty on three felony charges relating to the diesel emission scandal as part of a plea agreement. The three felonies are conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and introducing imported merchandise into the United States by means of false statements. "Your honor, VW AG is pleading guilty to all three counts because it is guilty on all three counts," said Volkswagen general counsel Manfred Doess at the hearing. As part of the plea deal, Volkswagen will pay $4.3 billion in penalties and have an independent monitor to oversee U.S. operations over the next three years. The deal also requires Volkswagen to continue cooperating with federal and state investigators. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for April 21st. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), Reuters
  11. The blame game over the Volkswagen diesel emission scandal continues with the former chairman Ferdinand Piëch saying that Volkswagen's top brass knew about the cheating months before it came to light. German newspaper Bild reported yesterday that Piëch told prosecutors that he informed Martin Winterkorn and four other members of Volkswagen's supervisory board about the possible cheating with their diesel engines. The other members include, Stephan Weil, prime minister of the German state of Lower Saxony Bernd Osterloh, works council chief Berthold Huber, former IG Metall union head Wolfgang Porsche These members have "unequivocally and emphatically" reject the allegations laid forth by Piëch. Volkswagen is none to happy about these accusations either and is considering possible legal options. "The Board of Management will carefully weigh the possibility of measures and claims against Mr. Piëch," the company said in a statement. A spokeswoman for Braunschweig prosecutors declined to comment when asked by Reuters about this story. It should be noted there is a bit of bad blood between Piëch and Volkswagen. In April 2015, Piëch was ousted as chairman for Volkswagen after a power struggle between him and Winterkorn. This might be Piëch wanting to settle some old scores and cause more problems for the company he once led. Source: Bild via Bloomberg, Reuters
  12. Volkswagen is making progress with moving on from the diesel emission scandal as they have announced a proposed agreement for the 3.0L TDI V6. Filed in federal court last night, the agreement totals $1.2 billion and hopes to resolve civil claims for 78,000 vehicles. The settlement includes, Buy back or terminate the lease of approximately 20,000 eligible 2009-2012 Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q7 TDI models (dubbed the Generation 1 models). There is also the possibility of Volkswagen offering owners of these models a fix if approved by the U.S. Government. Repair the approximately 58,000 Generation 2 models (2013-2016 Volkswagen Touareg, Porsche Cayenne, and Audi Q7; 2014-2016 Audi A6, A7, A8, Q5, and Q7). Offer compensation payments as much as $16,114 for all owners of 3.0L TDI V6 models The agreement needs the approval of a federal judge. A hearing on this will take place a couple weeks from now. “With the Court-approved 2.0L TDI program well under way and now this proposed 3.0L TDI program, all of our customers with affected vehicles in the United States will have a resolution available to them. We will continue to work to earn back the trust of all our stakeholders and thank our customers and dealers for their continued patience as this process moves forward,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc in a statement. Source: Bloomberg, Volkswagen Press Release is on Page 2 VOLKSWAGEN REACHES SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS WITH PRIVATE PLAINTIFFS AND U.S. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION ON 3.0L TDI V6 VEHICLES IN THE UNITED STATES Program, if approved, would include provisions to recall and repair most affected vehicles. Options for older affected vehicles include buybacks or trade-in credits, or lease termination. All eligible owners and lessees of affected vehicles will receive cash payments. Herndon, VA (February 1, 2017) – Volkswagen AG and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (together, Volkswagen) announced today that they have reached proposed agreements to resolve outstanding civil claims regarding approximately 78,000 affected 3.0L TDI V6 diesel engine vehicles in the United States. Two agreements have been submitted to the Court for approval: (1) a proposed class settlement with private plaintiffs represented by a Court-appointed Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) on behalf of a nationwide class of current and certain former owners and lessees of eligible 3.0L TDI V6 vehicles; and (2) a proposed Consent Order submitted by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). “With the Court-approved 2.0L TDI program well under way and now this proposed 3.0L TDI program, all of our customers with affected vehicles in the United States will have a resolution available to them. We will continue to work to earn back the trust of all our stakeholders and thank our customers and dealers for their continued patience as this process moves forward,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. Proposed 3.0L TDI Settlement Program Under the 3.0L TDI settlement program, Volkswagen has agreed, among other terms, to provide cash payments to all eligible members of the class, and take the following specific actions: Recall and repair, free of charge to the customer, approximately 58,000 affected 2013-2016 Model Year Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche 3.0L TDI V6 vehicles (so-called Generation 2 vehicles) to bring them into compliance with the emissions standards to which they were originally certified, if an appropriate Emissions Compliant Repair is approved by U.S. regulators. Buy back or offer trade-in credit of equal value for, or terminate the leases of, approximately 20,000 eligible 2009-2012 Model Year Volkswagen and Audi 3.0L TDI V6 vehicles (so-called Generation 1 vehicles) or, if approved by U.S. regulators, modify the vehicles to substantially reduce their nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions so as to allow eligible owners and lessees to keep them. Volkswagen has agreed to pay up to approximately $1.2 billion in benefits for the 3.0L TDI settlement program, assuming 100% participation in the program, a 100% buyback of all eligible Generation 1 vehicles and availability of an Emissions Compliant Repair for Generation 2 vehicles. Volkswagen expects to be able to bring affected Generation 2 vehicles to the same emissions standards to which the vehicles were originally certified. Volkswagen will begin the 3.0L TDI settlement program as soon as the Court grants final approval to the settlement agreements. At the earliest, approval will occur in May 2017. Potential claimants under the class settlement do not need to take any action at this time. Individual class members will receive extensive notification of their rights and options (including the option to “opt out” of the settlement agreement) if the Court grants preliminary approval of the proposed class settlement at a hearing scheduled to take place on February 14, 2017. More information about the proposed 3.0L TDI settlement program can be found at www.VWCourtSettlement.com. Notes to Editors The proposed settlement applies to all 3.0L TDI V6 diesel engine vehicles that Volkswagen, Audi, or Porsche marketed or sold in the United States for Model Years 2009 through 2016. The vehicles are divided into two generations, as follows: Generation 1 Vehicles Volkswagen Touareg: 2009-2012 Audi Q7: 2009-2012 Generation 2 Vehicles Volkswagen Touareg: 2013-2016 Audi Q7: 2013-2015 Audi A6, A7, A8, A8L, Q5: 2014-2016 Porsche Cayenne Diesel: 2013-2016
  13. Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn is already being investigated by German prosecutors over market manipulation because of the diesel emission scandal. But now, he finds himself under a new investigation by prosecutors on the suspicion of fraud. Reuters reports that prosecutors in Braunschweig believe Winterkorn knew about the cheat used on the 2.0L TDI well before the timeframe he has admittedly publicly. This suspicion comes as the result of numerous interviews with witnesses and suspects, along with raids on 28 houses and offices this week. "Sufficient indications have resulted from the investigation, particularly the questioning of witnesses and suspects as well as the analysis of seized data, that the accused (Winterkorn) may have known about the manipulating software and its effects sooner than he has said publicly," prosecutors said in a statement. At a hearing last week in Berlin, Winterkorn declined to say when he first learned about the cheat, citing the investigation being done by prosecutors. "For now, Dr. Winterkorn is sticking with the statement he made before a German parliamentary committee of inquiry (into the scandal) on Jan. 19," said Felix Doerr, a lawyer representing Winterkorn in an email to Reuters. Prosecutors also revealed that the number of people possibly involved in the scandal has risen from 21 to 37, including Winterkorn. Source: Reuters
  14. Ever since Martin Winterkorn resigned from his post as Volkswagen Group CEO due to diesel emission scandal sixteen months ago, he has been out of the spotlight. However, Winterkorn made his first public appearance today at a parliamentary committee in Berlin investigating the emission irregularities of automobiles. At the hearing, Winterkorn maintained his innocence, saying he had no part in the cheating, nor knew anything about it. “It’s incomprehensible why I wasn’t informed early and clearly. I would have prevented any type of deception or misleading of authorities,” said Winterkorn. Winterkorn declined to answer questions dealing with when he was informed about the scandal, saying prosecutors are still investigating. The defense that Winterkorn is using (not having any knowledge about the scandal until the news broke) is very much at odds with his reputation of being a detail-obsessed executive. “It remains difficult to believe that such a dedicated engineer like Winterkorn wasn’t aware what was going on. And if he wasn’t, he neglected his duties as supervisor,” said Stefan Bratzel, an auto industry researcher at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany to Bloomberg. There is also a fair amount of circumstantial evidence that shows Winterkorn knew about this. A year before the scandal broke, Winterkorn was alleged to get a memo talking about the investigation into the EA128 2.0L TDI engine. He claims that he never saw that memo. There is also the allegation that Winterkorn sat in a meeting discussing the investigation. Before leaving the hearing, Winterkorn apologized once again. “What happened makes people furious -- me too. I’m deeply upset that we disappointed millions of our customers,” said Winterkorn. Source: Bloomberg
  15. In 2005, Volkswagen was in dire straights. The company was going through a painful restructure and was looking into various ways to get itself back into shape. One of those ways was a possible deal with Daimler on possibly using their diesel technologies. But Volkswagen canceled the talks later that year and worked on their own diesel engines, which led to the cheating software and the mess it finds itself today. Bloomberg has learned from sources about a top-secret plan known as 'Project Tabletop'. The plan, spearheaded by then VW CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder, involved Volkswagen and Daimler possibly collaborating on projects and a possible deal where Volkswagen would get access to Diamler's BlueTec technologies for cleaning up diesel emissions by using urea injection. However, the talks were called off before an important meeting in August 2005. Sources claim that Volkswagen balked at cost of adding BlueTec to their vehicles - about 1,000 euros per car. Plus, VW couldn't lower production costs to compensate for. Instead, Volkswagen would go on its own and continue working on their TDI engines. This got strong internal support from then chairman Ferdinand Piech. But it also brought a fair amount on controversy to Volkswagen's top management. Some believed that Volkswagen wouldn't be able to meet the stringent U.S. standards for diesel vehicles without the BlueTec technologies. Sure enough, in 2006, Volkswagen would begin developing the software cheat that would reduce emissions when it detected specific conditions to know it was being tested. It is unclear if there is a link between the deal falling through and development of the cheat. Source: Bloomberg
  16. Volkswagen will be cutting another big check. Today, the company announced that it had reached a settlement with Department of Justice over the criminal case on the diesel emission scandal. Volkswagen will plead guilty to three criminal felony charges and will pay $4.3 billion - $2.8 billion for the fine and $1.5 billion to settle civil cases. The settlement also requires an independent monitor to watch over the company for the next years. Volkswagen's board still needs to approve this settlement, but the company says the approval could happen today or tomorrow. If they waited, the parties would have to do it all over again with new people coming as part of President-elect Trump's team. “Today’s actions reflect the Justice Department’s steadfast commitment to defending consumers, protecting our environment and our financial system and holding individuals and companies accountable for corporate wrongdoing. In the days ahead, we will continue to examine Volkswagen’s attempts to mislead consumers and deceive the government. And we will continue to pursue the individuals responsible for orchestrating this damaging conspiracy,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch in a statement. In addition, six Volkswagen executives and employees have been charged with their involvement in the scandal. They include, Richard Dorenkamp - In charge of Volkswagen’s Engine Development After-Treatment Department from 2003 to 2013. This department is where the cheat was developed. Bernd Gottweis - Volkswagen's supervisor responsible for Quality Management and Product Safety between 2007 to October 2014. Jens Hadler - Head of powertrain development from 2007 to 2011. Heinz-Jakob Neusser - Head of powertrain development from 2011 to 2013, suspended by Volkswagen back in 2015. Jürgen Peter - Worked in Volkswagen's Quality Management and Product Safety Group from 1990 to now. For a few months in 2015, he was a liaison for various regulatory agencies. Oliver Schmidt - Volkswagen's liaison with U.S. environmental regulators. He was arrested on Sunday in Miami as he was returning to Germany. Source: Department of Justice, Bloomberg, Reuters Press Release is on Page 2 Volkswagen AG Agrees to Plead Guilty and Pay $4.3 Billion in Criminal and Civil Penalties; Six Volkswagen Executives and Employees are Indicted in Connection with Conspiracy to Cheat U.S. Emissions Tests VW to Pay $2.8 Billion Criminal Fine in Guilty Plea and $1.5 Billion Settlement of Civil Environmental, Customs and Financial Violations; Monitor to Be Appointed to Oversee the Parent Company Volkswagen AG (VW) has agreed to plead guilty to three criminal felony counts and pay a $2.8 billion criminal penalty as a result of the company’s long-running scheme to sell approximately 590,000 diesel vehicles in the U.S. by using a defeat device to cheat on emissions tests mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and lying and obstructing justice to further the scheme, the Justice Department announced today. In separate civil resolutions of environmental, customs and financial claims, VW has agreed to pay $1.5 billion. This includes EPA’s claim for civil penalties against VW in connection with VW’s importation and sale of these cars, as well as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) claims for customs fraud. In addition, the EPA agreement requires injunctive relief to prevent future violations. The agreements also resolve alleged violations of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA). The Criminal Case: VW is charged with and has agreed to plead guilty to participating in a conspiracy to defraud the United States and VW’s U.S. customers and to violate the Clean Air Act by lying and misleading the EPA and U.S. customers about whether certain VW, Audi and Porsche branded diesel vehicles complied with U.S. emissions standards, using cheating software to circumvent the U.S. testing process and concealing material facts about its cheating from U.S. regulators. VW is also charged with obstruction of justice for destroying documents related to the scheme, and with a separate crime of importing these cars into the U.S. by means of false statements about the vehicles’ compliance with emissions limits. Under the terms of the plea agreement, which must be accepted by the court, VW will plead guilty to all these crimes, will be on probation for three years, will be under an independent corporate compliance monitor who will oversee the company for at least three years, and agrees to fully cooperate in the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation and prosecution of individuals responsible for these crimes. In addition, a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Michigan returned an indictment today charging six VW executives and employees for their roles in the nearly 10-year conspiracy. Heinz-Jakob Neusser, 56; Jens Hadler, 50; Richard Dorenkamp, 68; Bernd Gottweis, 69; Oliver Schmidt, 48; and Jürgen Peter, 59, all of Germany, are charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, defraud VW’s U.S. customers and violate the Clean Air Act by making false representations to regulators and the public about the ability of VW’s supposedly “clean diesel” vehicles to comply with U.S. emissions requirements. The indictment also charges Dorenkamp, Neusser, Schmidt and Peter with Clean Air Act violations and charges Neusser, Gottweis, Schmidt and Peter with wire fraud counts. This case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Sean F. Cox of the Eastern District of Michigan. Schmidt was arrested on Jan. 7, 2017, in Miami during a visit to the United States and appeared in federal court there on Monday. The other defendants are believed to presently reside in Germany. Today’s announcement was made by Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Administrator Cynthia Giles, Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Acting Deputy Secretary Russell C. Deyo for the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Volkswagen’s attempts to dodge emissions standards and import falsely certified vehicles into the country represent an egregious violation of our nation’s environmental, consumer protection and financial laws,” said Attorney General Lynch. “Today’s actions reflect the Justice Department’s steadfast commitment to defending consumers, protecting our environment and our financial system and holding individuals and companies accountable for corporate wrongdoing. In the days ahead, we will continue to examine Volkswagen’s attempts to mislead consumers and deceive the government. And we will continue to pursue the individuals responsible for orchestrating this damaging conspiracy.” “When Volkswagen broke the law, EPA stepped in to hold them accountable and address the pollution they caused,” said EPA Administrator McCarthy. “EPA’s fundamental and indispensable role becomes all too clear when companies evade laws that protect our health. The American public depends on a strong and active EPA to deliver clean air protections, and that is exactly what we have done.” “This wasn’t simply the action of some faceless, multinational corporation,” said Deputy Attorney General Yates. “This conspiracy involved flesh-and-blood individuals who used their positions within Volkswagen to deceive both regulators and consumers. From the start of this investigation, we’ve been committed to ensuring that those responsible for criminal activity are held accountable. We’ve followed the evidence—from the showroom to the boardroom—and it brought us to the people whose indictments we’re announcing today.” “Americans expect corporations to operate honestly and provide accurate information,” said Deputy Director McCabe. “Volkswagen’s data deception defrauded the U.S. government, violated the Clean Air Act and eroded consumer trust. This case sends a clear message to corporations, no matter how big or small, that if you lie and disregard rules that protect consumers and the environment, you will be caught and held accountable.” “Blatant violations of U.S. customs and environmental laws will not be tolerated, and this case reinforces that,” said Acting Deputy Secretary Deyo. “These actions put our economy, consumers and citizens at risk, and the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will continue to take every step necessary to protect the American people.” According to the indictment, the individuals occupied the following positions within the company: Heinz-Jakob Neusser: from July 2013 until September 2015, Neusser worked for VW as head of Development for VW Brand and was also on the management board for VW Brand. From October 2011 until July 2013, Neusser served as the head of Engine Development for VW. Jens Hadler: from May 2007 until March 2011, Hadler worked for VW as head of Engine Development for VW. Richard Dorenkamp: from 2003 until December 2013, Dorenkamp worked for VW as the head of VW’s Engine Development After-Treatment Department in Wolfsburg, Germany. From 2006 until 2013, Dorenkamp led a team of engineers that developed the first diesel engine that was designed to meet the new, tougher emissions standards in the United States. Bernd Gottweis: from 2007 until October 2014, Gottweis worked for VW as a supervisor with responsibility for Quality Management and Product Safety. Oliver Schmidt: from 2012 through February 2015, Schmidt was the General Manager in charge of the Environment and Engineering Office, located in Auburn Hills, Michigan. From February 2015 through September 2015, Schmidt returned to VW headquarters to work directly for Neusser, including on emissions issues. Jürgen Peter: Peter worked in the VW Quality Management and Product Safety Group from 1990 until the present. From March 2015 until July 2015, Peter was one of the VW liaisons between the regulatory agencies and VW. According to the charging documents and statement of facts filed with the court, in 2006, VW engineers began to design a new diesel engine to meet stricter U.S. emissions standards that would take effect by model year 2007. This new engine would be the cornerstone of a new project to sell diesel vehicles in the United States that would be marketed to buyers as “clean diesel,” a project that was an important strategic goal for VW’s management. When the co-conspirators realized that they could not design a diesel engine that would both meet the stricter NOx emissions standards and attract sufficient customer demand in the U.S. market, they decided they would use a software function to cheat standard U.S. emissions tests. VW engineers working under Dorenkamp and Hadler designed and implemented a software to recognize whether a vehicle was undergoing standard U.S. emissions testing on a dynamometer or it was being driven on the road under normal driving conditions. The software accomplished this by recognizing the standard published drive cycles. Based on these inputs, if the vehicle’s software detected that it was being tested, the vehicle performed in one mode, which satisfied U.S. NOx emissions standards. If the software detected that the vehicle was not being tested, it operated in a different mode, in which the vehicle’s emissions control systems were reduced substantially, causing the vehicle to emit NOx up to 40 times higher than U.S. standards. Disagreements over the direction of the project were articulated at a meeting over which Hadler presided, and which Dorenkamp attended. Hadler authorized Dorenkamp to proceed with the project knowing that only the use of the defeat device software would enable VW diesel vehicles to pass U.S. emissions tests. Starting with the first model year 2009 of VW’s new “clean diesel” engine through model year 2016, Dorenkamp, Neusser, Hadler and their co-conspirators installed, or caused to be installed, the defeat device software into the vehicles imported and sold in the United States. In order to sell their “clean diesel” vehicles in the United States, the co-conspirators lied to the EPA about the existence of their test-cheating software, hiding it from the EPA, CARB, VW customers and the U.S. public. Dorenkamp, Neusser, Hadler, Gottweis, Schmidt, Peter and their co-conspirators then marketed, and caused to be marketed, VW diesel vehicles to the U.S. public as “clean diesel” and environmentally-friendly. Around 2012, hardware failures developed in certain of the diesel vehicles. VW engineers believed the increased stress on the exhaust system from being driven in the “dyno mode” could be the cause of the hardware failures. In July 2012, VW engineers met with Neusser and Gottweis to explain what they believed to be the cause of the hardware failures and explained the defeat device. Gottweis and Neusser each encouraged further concealment of the software. In 2014, the co-conspirators perfected their cheating software by starting the vehicle in “street mode,” and, when the defeat device realized the vehicle was being tested, switching to the “dyno mode.” To increase the ability of the vehicle’s software to recognize that it was being tested on the dynamometer, the VW engineers activated a “steering wheel angle recognition feature.” With these alterations, it was believed the stress on the exhaust system would be reduced because the engine would not be operating for as long in “dyno mode.” The new function was installed in existing vehicles through software updates. The defendants and other co-conspirators falsely represented, and caused to be represented, to U.S. regulators, U.S. customers and others that the software update was intended to improve durability and emissions issues in the vehicles when, in fact, they knew it was used to more quickly deactivate emission control systems when the vehicle was not undergoing emissions tests. After years of VW selling their “clean diesel” vehicles in the United States that had the cheating software, in March 2014, West Virginia University’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions published the results of a study commissioned by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). The ICCT study identified substantial discrepancies in the NOx emissions from certain VW vehicles when tested on the road compared to when these vehicles were undergoing EPA and CARB standard drive cycle tests on a dynamometer. Rather than tell the truth, VW employees, including Neusser, Gottweis, Schmidt and Peter, pursued a strategy to disclose as little as possible – to continue to hide the existence of the software from U.S. regulators, U.S. customers and the U.S. public. Following the ICCT study, CARB, in coordination with the EPA, attempted to work with VW to determine the cause for the higher NOx emissions in VW diesel vehicles when being driven on the road as opposed to on the dynamometer undergoing standard emissions test cycles. To do this, CARB, in coordination with the EPA, repeatedly asked VW questions that became increasingly more specific and detailed, and tested the vehicles themselves. In implementing their strategy of disclosing as little as possible, Neusser, Gottweis, Schmidt, Peter and their co-conspirators provided EPA and CARB with testing results, data, presentations and statements in an attempt to make it appear that there were innocent mechanical and technological problems to blame, while secretly knowing that the primary reason for the discrepancy was their cheating software that was installed in every VW diesel vehicle sold in the United States. The co-conspirators continued this back-and-forth with the EPA and CARB for over 18 months, obstructing the regulators’ attempts to uncover the truth. The charges in the indictment are merely accusations and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The case was investigated by the FBI and EPA-CID. The prosecution and corporate investigation are being handled by Securities and Financial Fraud Unit Chief Benjamin D. Singer and Trial Attorneys David Fuhr, Alison Anderson, Christopher Fenton and Gary Winters of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section; Trial Attorney Jennifer Blackwell of the Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Environmental Crimes Section; and from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, Criminal Division Chief Mark Chutkow and White Collar Crime Unit Chief John K. Neal and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Wyse. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs also assisted in the case. The Justice Department also extends its thanks to the Office of the Public Prosecutor in Braunschweig, Germany. The Civil Resolutions: The first civil settlement resolves EPA’s remaining claims against six VW-related entities (including Volkswagen AG, Audi AG and Porsche AG) currently pending in the multidistrict litigation before U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer of the Northern District of California. EPA’s complaint alleges that VW violated the Clean Air Act by selling approximately 590,000 cars that the United States alleges are equipped with defeat devices and, during normal operation and use, emit pollution significantly in excess of EPA-compliant levels. VW has agreed to pay $1.45 billion to resolve EPA’s civil penalty claims, as well as the civil penalty claim of CBP described below. The consent decree resolving the Clean Air Act claims also resolves EPA’s remaining claim in the complaint for injunctive relief to prevent future violations by requiring VW to undertake a number of corporate governance reforms and perform in-use testing of its vehicles using a portable emissions measurement system of the same type used to catch VW’s cheating in the first place. Today’s settlement is in addition the historic $14.7 billion settlement that addressed the 2.0 liter cars on the road and associated environmental harm announced in June 2016, and $1 billion settlement that addressed the 3.0 liter cars on the road and associated environmental harm announced in December 2016, which together included nearly $3 billion for environmental mitigation projects. A second civil settlement resolves civil fraud claims asserted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) against VW entities. VW entities violated criminal and civil customs laws by knowingly submitting to CBP material false statements and omitting material information, over multiple years, with the intent of deceiving or misleading CBP concerning the admissibility of vehicles into the United States. CBP enforces U.S. customs laws as well as numerous laws on behalf of other governmental agencies related to health, safety, and border security. At the time of importation, VW falsely represented to CBP that each of the nearly 590,000 imported vehicles complied with all applicable environmental laws, knowing those representations to be untrue. CBP’s relationship with the importing community is one based on trust, and this resolution demonstrates that CBP will not tolerate abrogation of importer responsibilities and schemes to defraud the revenue of the United States. The $1.45 billion paid under the EPA settlement also resolves CBP’s claims. In a third settlement, VW has agreed to pay $50 million in civil penalties for alleged violations of FIRREA. The Justice Department alleged that a VW entity supported the sales and leasing of certain VW vehicles, including the defeat-device vehicles, by offering competitive financing terms by purchasing from dealers certain automobile retail installment contracts (i.e. loans) and leases entered into by customers that purchased or leased certain VW vehicles, as well as dealer floorplan loans. These financing arrangements were primarily collateralized by the vehicles underlying the loan and lease transactions. The department alleged that certain of these loans, leases and floorplan financings were pooled together to create asset-backed securities and that federally insured financial institutions purchased certain notes in these securities. Today’s FIRREA resolution is part of the department’s ongoing efforts to deter wrongdoers from using the financial markets to facilitate their fraud and to ensure the stability of the nation’s financial system. Except where based on admissions by VW, the claims resolved by the civil agreements are allegations only. The civil settlements were handled by the Environmental and Natural Resources Division’s Environmental Enforcement Section, with assistance from the EPA; the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch; and CBP.
  17. Some good news for Volkswagen as the Environmental Protection Agency has approved a fix for a select number of vehicles equipped with the 2.0L TDI. Reuters reports that the fix available for 70,000 vehicles will come in two phases. Right now, vehicles eligible for the fix will get a software update. The following year, Volkswagen will install more software, diesel particulate filter, diesel oxidation catalyst, and NOx catalyst. Now for the bad news, this fix is only available on the 2015 Audi A3, Volkswagen Beetle, Golf, Golf SportWagen, Jetta, and Passat. Volkswagen is still waiting on approval for fixes on the remaining 400,000 vehicles. "With today's approval, VW can offer vehicle owners the choice to keep and fix their car, or to have it bought back," the EPA said in a statement. The agency also noted the fix would "not affect vehicle fuel economy, reliability, or durability." We have to wonder how many owners will take Volkswagen up on the fix. The buyback option has proven to be very popular - getting the value of the vehicle before the scandal was brought to light. If there is one silver lining, Volkswagen will be able to sell the 2015 model year diesel vehicles once fixed. Source: Reuters
  18. There will always be those who try their best to find loopholes. Case in point are some Volkswagen TDI owners who deciding to strip their vehicles for parts before turning them into dealers. This came to light a couple of weeks ago on Jalopnik as it had found various threads on Reddit and TDI forums with such titles as “Will anyone be stripping salvaging parts before selling back?” and "Stripping the Turn-Ins". Why are there owners who are seriously considering this? It comes down to EPA's consent decree which states a vehicle must be 'operatable'. This is defined by the court as, "“Operable” means that a vehicle so described can be driven under its own 2.0-liter TDI engine power. A vehicle is not Operable if it had a branded title of “Assembled,” “Dismantled,” “Flood,” “Junk,” “Rebuilt,” “Reconstructed,” or “Salvaged” as of September 18, 2015, and was acquired by any person or entity from a junkyard or salvaged after September 18, 2015." This definition leaves a lot of room for interpretation and some are taking that to mean it is ok to remove a number of parts. In fact, one Volkswagen TDI owner in Ohio basically removed almost everything on his Golf to see if Volkswagen would buy it back and was brought to light by Jalopnik last week. But this loophole has been closed. USA Today reports that U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer warned owners last Thursday not to strip their vehicles. This was brought up by Volkswagen's attorney which referenced the Jalopnik story. "Clearly the purpose of the agreement by Volkswagen was to accept these cars in the condition that they were in as they were being driven on the road, and not to strip the cars," Breyer said at the hearing. Jonathan Cohen, an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission told USA Today that the agency is "absolutely against bad-faith behavior by consumers" but also noted that VW cannot reject buybacks based on "the vehicle's superficial condition." (i.e. normal wear and tear). Breyer said he would consider taking further action if needed at a later time. Source: Jalopnik, 2 , USA Today
  19. There is finally some good news for owners of the 80,000 vehicles equipped with Volkswagen's 3.0L TDI V6. Today in U.S. Federal Court in San Fransisco, District Court Judge Charles Breyer announced that Volkswagen and the U.S. Government have a reached an agreement on the 3.0L TDI settlement. The AFP in a tweet reports the settlement will total $1 billion. The agreement will see Volkswagen buying back 20.000 models as they cannot be retrofitted with new parts to make them legal. The remaining 60,000 models will be fixed once Volkswagen and U.S. Government agree on one. No matter which option, there will be compensation, although how much is unknown at this time. Breyer admitted during the hearing the two parties still have some issues to hammer out. Another hearing has been scheduled for Thursday for an update. Source: AFP, Reuters
  20. There appears to be some movement on the 3.0L TDI settlement between Volkswagen and U.S. Government. A source briefed on the 3.0L TDI V6 settlement told Reuters that Volkswagen will pay $200 million into a pollution reduction fund. This is on top of the $2.7 billion Volkswagen will be paying for the 2.0L TDI pollution reduction fund. This seems to be the only thing the two groups have agreed on at the moment. Yesterday, a hearing at U.S. Federal Court in San Fransisco was pushed back few hours to give them more time to negotiate. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said at the hearing the parties have made "substantial progress and I am optimistic that there will be a resolution." Breyer has given them until Monday to see if an agreement can be reached. The sticking point in the negotiations over the 3.0L TDI has been how much Volkswagen would offer in compensation to owners who get their vehicles repaired or bought back. Reuters says Volkswagen, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and lawyers for the suing owners have been going at it for weeks. Source: Reuters
  21. American criminal lawyers are in demand at Volkswagen. Bloomberg has learned from sources that various executives at the company are hiring lawyers as the Department of Justice begins sending out officials to Germany for meetings to gather evidence for possible criminal charges. Volkswagen has already agreed to a $16 billion settlement over the diesel emission scandal. But the Department of Justice is continuing their investigation into whether various Volkswagen executives knew about the cheating software installed on over 10 million diesel vehicles around the world. As we reported back in September, a Volkswagen engineer has pled guilty for being involved in the scandal. Volkswagen has long maintained that none of its executives knew about the software and that it was a rogue group of engineers that went forward with this decision. But as we have been reporting for the past year, various documents and emails that have been leaked out put serious doubts into this claim. It is unknown if this investigation involves former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn who stepped down shortly after the scandal broke. If the Department of Justice was to bring Volkswagen executives to court, they could be facing some roadblocks. Germany's constitution doesn’t allow citizens to be extradited outside the European Union. A source tells Bloomberg the Department of Justice is looking into possible ways to bring them to the U.S. Source: Bloomberg
  22. Volkswagen and U.S. Government were going to have a hearing at U.S. Federal Court in San Francisco today for an update on the 3.0L TDI talks. But yesterday, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer has pushed it back to next month. Reuters got their hands on a court order in which Breyer says "negotiations are continuing between the German automaker, regulators, and lawyers representing owners," and a delay "may produce a resolution of the outstanding issues." As we reported earlier this month, Volkswagen and regulators have possibly reached a deal for the 3.0L TDI with 60,000 of the affected vehicles being fixed, and the other 20,000 being bought back. There are still a number of issues that need to be worked out, hence the delay. Source: Reuters
  23. Porsche currently has between 1,300 to 1,500 new Cayenne diesels that are just sitting around on dealer lots because of the diesel emission scandal. But when a fix for the diesel engine is given the ok, you'll be able to get one with a hell of a discount. Speaking with Automotive News, Porsche Cars North America CEO Klaus Zellmer said that once the U.S. Federal Court gives the approval for the fix, they will fix the affected Cayennes for both owners and those on dealer lots. Once fixed, the ones sitting on dealer lots will not go onto the new car lot. Instead, you'll find them in the used car section. "Then they're going to be sold as used cars. They will be low-mileage, very attractive used cars, based on the age of the car. There's always a market for any car. You just have to get the price right," said Zellmer. It is unknown how much Porsche plans to discount the Cayenne Diesels that are sitting on dealer lots. We wouldn't be shocked if there is a price cut of $5,000 or more. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  24. Will Volkswagen make a return with diesels to the U.S. or not? Unfortunately, we're getting mixed messages on this issue. Back in July, Volkswagen of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken said diesel would not a core element of the brand going forward. But they could start selling a diesel vehicle in the U.S. again if it makes sense. “We are not stopping diesel. Wherever diesel makes sense as a package to the car, we’ll continue. But in reality, we have to accept that the high percentage of diesels that we had before will not come back again,” said Woebcken. Last week in an interview with Motor Trend, Woebcken reiterated his earlier statement with the automaker not ruling out diesels in the future. But this week, Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess told German business paper Handelsblatt that diesel will not be returning to Volkswagen's U.S. lineup. "At the moment we assume that we will offer no new diesel vehicles in the U.S," said Diess. “The reason is the legal framework.” Who to believe? We're not sure ourselves. Stay tuned. Source: Motor Trend, Handelsblatt, Reuters
  25. There is some possible good news for owners of Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen models equipped with the 3.0L TDI V6. Bloomberg has learned from sources that Volkswagen and U.S. environmental regulators have reached an agreement on fixing and buying back vehicles with this engine. The agreement gives Volkswagen the go-ahead to fix 60,000 vehicles with a software update, while the remaining 20,000 vehicles will need to be bought back because they would be too complex to fix. Avoiding the buyback of all 80,000 vehicles involved in this scandal will save Volkswagen about $4 billion. "The Court has scheduled a status conference for November 30, 2016 to discuss the matter further. Until that time the Court has ordered that these discussions remain confidential," said Mark Clothier, an Audi spokesman, via email to Roadshow. Aside from the court, Volkswagen still needs to reach agreements with owners of the 3.0L TDI V6 who have filed suit against the company and the Federal Trade Commission, which has sued Volkswagen for false advertising. Both groups are demanding that Volkswagen offer the buyback option to all owners. Source: Bloomberg, Roadshow
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