VW Pleads Guilty to Charges in U.S. Diesel Cheating Scandal
Volkswagen AG (VW) on Friday pleaded guilty to three criminal charges for rigging 590,000 diesel-powered vehicles in the United States to cheat on diesel emissions tests. The judge in the case has set an April 21 sentencing date in Detroit’s U.S. District Court. Officials from VW will likely comment further on their progress to make things right during the annual investor and media conference in Wolfsburg on March 14.
In Detroit U.S. District Court on March 10, the German automaker declared for the first time that it was guilty of conspiracy, obstructing justice, and falsifying statements about its imported vehicles. The plea means Volkswagen has committed felonies under U.S. law, unlike rival automakers also embroiled in recent actions such as General Motors with its ignition-switch case and Toyota Group with its unintended acceleration debacle.
The plea agreement was first announced in January with proposed settlements with the EPA and border control agency that goes back to VW’s illegally importing 590,000 turbodiesel vehicles with emissions cheating software into the United States. Penalties will include $4.3 billion in U.S. civil and criminal fines as part of a settlement reached with the U.S. Justice Department in January, according to news reports.
U.S. legal settlements alone have tarnished the automaker’s standing and significantly hit its financial base, although VW Group new-vehicle sales in the United States are beginning to revive. In the emissions cheating case, VW, Audi, and Porsche vehicles with diesel engines going back 10 years are impacted for not being compliant with U.S. Clean Air standards. VW disclosed that it had installed diesel emissions “defeat devices” to U.S. regulators in September 2015. Volkswagen stopped selling diesel-powered vehicles in the United States in late 2015.
Meanwhile, VW is proceeding with its agreed $22 billion settlement that features compensating U.S. owners of more than 500,000 diesel vehicles with buybacks and cash. It also continues to address claims from federal and state governments, regulators, and dealers. Probes also continue in other world regions, including Europe, where diesel-powered vehicles comprise a much larger market share.
For details about the U.S. settlement program for impacted 2.0-liter and 3.0-liter diesel vehicles, visit www.VWCourtSettlement.com.