Five years ago, Volkswagen Group stunned the car industry with its emissions scandal known as “Dieselgate”. Since the scandal first broke in the news, the car manufacturer has been working to make us forget its dark past. VW has been working to reinvent itself in the wake of the scandal, but a recent government ruling in the carmaker’s home base of Germany shows that the fallout is far from over.
What did the VW Group do exactly?
Volkswagen manipulated its engine software in almost 11 million diesel cars worldwide in order to meet emissions guidelines administered by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Researchers found out about the emissions tampering in 2014 and notified the EPA as well as the California Air Resources Board about it. Some of the VW Group cars that were tampered with include the 2010-2015 Volkswagen Golf, the 2015 Audi A3, and the 2013-2016 Porsche Cayenne Diesel.
When the manipulated cars were in “test mode” they were in compliance. However, while in drive mode, the car software would switch to another status which returned more mileage and power. But at the same time, it also more emitted nitrogen oxides which are linked to causing lung cancer.
Researchers found out that VW’s diesel engines were emitting 40 times the legal amount of smog-pollutants. This emissions scandal became publicly known in 2015 and caused VW’s stock to drop significantly.
The recent government ruling
Germany’s highest civil court recently ruled that VW will be forced to repay a customer who purchased one of the diesel-powered Volkswagen minivans that were equipped with the rigged software.
Because of this ruling, thousands of other owners could be compensated as well. Right now, there are over 60,000 Dieselgate related lawsuits in Germany that are still pending.
This new compensation ruling is likely to be very expensive for VW. Separately, the carmaker was already obligated to pay upwards of $7 billion to owners of the defective cars.
VW said in a statement that the company is working to bring the settlements to a close. But there are still 100,000 pending lawsuits outside of Germany. Most of these are in the UK.
The U.S. banned the manipulated cars after the software tampering was initially detected. The U.S. was also particularly aggressive in obtaining compensation for customers.
On the other hand, European authorities allowed defective vehicles to stay on the road. Because of this, the VW Group was just forced to pay a fine for its fraud and update the car software.
VW Group working to reinvent itself
Now, VW Group is rebranding itself as a more earth-conscious company. You may have noticed that the carmaker has been making a greater push to electrify its lineup.
These products are appealing and also double as an obvious ploy to regain consumer trust. But the VW Group’s emissions cheating scandal is ongoing and is still damaging the carmaker’s brand.