Volkswagen is in trouble with just about everybody on the f'ing planet

Blind_Io

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I'm glad that VAG and FCA are getting their feet held to the fire on this. I know that there's a lot of disdain for the EAP and environmental regulations among car enthusiasts, but despite these regulations, we are making cars today that are producing more power, going faster, stopping better, and turning harder - all while being cleaner and lasting longer than at any point in automotive history.

I want technology to drive us forward to cleaner, better vehicles. It doesn't mean that enthusiasm has to die on the alter of environmentalism. Hell, even e-series racing would be fantastic, Laguna Seca can only run unrestricted noise a few days a year due to development around the track; noise is one of the biggest problems facing tracks that are trying to survive as housing spreads farther into what was previously undeveloped land. With e-series racing, we could have races any time we want and not wake the neighbors. It opens to the door to urban tracks and even street course events with minimal disruption and no emissions to worry about.

VAG and FCA trying to cheat their way into compliance rather than innovate is holding all of us back.
 

katwalk

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Yeah companies generally try to do whatever they can get away with as the bare minimum. There is a pount where the regulations can go too far, but usually I think they are within reasonable standards to set as goals and force people to innovate.

I worry less about these regulations then the consequences of not meeting them fast enough, not just for the sake of the damage being done, but the fear of what would happen if they put that off until it's an emergency. I don't want crazy taxes to run my cars or fuel rationing or even worse, for fun cars to no longer be profitable enough to keep making.

Honestly I think the biggest threat to car enthusiasts is the average person being really apathetic or even hateful about cars. The most common reason why seems to be related to emissions. Cutting corners won't help anyone.
 

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So at this point, I get the suspicion that nobody could meet the diesel regs and everyone cheated to some extent... Now should we look at the petrol powered vehicles or is ignorance bliss?
 

bone

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i'm pretty sure they could....if they really wanted...
 

SirEdward

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So at this point, I get the suspicion that nobody could meet the diesel regs and everyone cheated to some extent... Now should we look at the petrol powered vehicles or is ignorance bliss?
Pretty much everyone cheated. That was already clear the moment none of VW's competitors tried to take advantage of the situation in 2015. To quote myself from those days:

I think the possibility of other car makers having similar issues is ridiculously high, because, if anything, VW seems to have wildly reduced the pollutant emissions during the tests in comparison to the real world, but none of the other makers seems to have noticed, and we know other car makers buy from competitors and then Reverse Engineer the cars to the smallest screw...
Not a word, not an advertisement to exploit the situation, nothing at all. Either they were a group of very sporty and respectful opponents or they were in deep sh*t themselves. And for sure they are not that sporty.

Meeting strict regulations with diesels costs. A lot. In power, in complexity, in pricetags. Nobody wanted to admit that new cars should have been worse to drive, or much more expensive, than previous ones.

The effect of the cheating are real, and now, as in 2015, I expect and ask everyone involved to pay dearly for what they have done, in the US and in the EU, and everywhere else they have done that.

As for petrol cars... they are a bit less problematic, as of now. We'll see when the "let's reduce CO2!!!!" tidal wave will come around again for private cars.
 

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So at this point, I get the suspicion that nobody could meet the diesel regs and everyone cheated to some extent... Now should we look at the petrol powered vehicles or is ignorance bliss?
Except in the US, the only people that purely cheated were VW. Fiat asked for and was granted a temporary exception, didn't manage to meet the regs, paid/is paying a pre-agreed fine and that was it. Everyone else has complied - that we know of so far, and there's been a lot of eyes looking at them from the federal down to the local level of government, lots of universities and study groups as well as hordes of personal injury lawyers. So far nothing else has surfaced. (With the exception of some apparent desperate last-minute attempts from FCA when the agreement was running out to try to ostensibly meet the requirements - those are attracting some criminal charges.)

In Europe, it appears everyone was cheating. The US has great big teeth in its Clean Air Act and subsequent legislation, not to mention that there was a previous example of diesel cheaters (semis and other HD diesels) being swiftly and harshly punished by the EPA not long before. Not so much in Europe, apparently.

In the US, there haven't been too many examples of gasoline powered cars deliberately cheating... except, wait for it, VW. Who was just caught cheating on gasoline powered cars too. This isn't the "well, our simulator screwed up" that's bitten other makers - this is similar cheating scheming as they did with Dieselgate.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-volkswagen-settlement/volkswagen-overstated-fuel-economy-on-98k-u-s-vehicles-will-reimburse-consumers-idUSKCN1VK2AT

Volkswagen overstated fuel economy on 98,000 U.S. vehicles, will repay consumers


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) must forfeit greenhouse gas emissions credits and is lowering the fuel economy ratings on 98,000 vehicles after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said auto software overstated real-world performance.

Volkswagen said Friday it had agreed to a $96.5 million court settlement, with no fine, to reimburse affected customers.

The software was on roughly 1 million 2013-2017 model year Audi, Bentley, Porsche and Volkswagen vehicles, the agency said. It caused the transmission to shift gears in a manner that sometimes optimizes fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions during the EPA-prescribed emissions test, but not under normal driving conditions, the agency said.

The vehicles getting lower ratings include versions of the Audi A8, Bentley Continental GT, Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg. Not all of the five model years are covered by the settlement.

The EPA said Volkswagen has determined the software lowered the fuel economy rating on roughly 98,000 vehicles by about one mile per gallon.

The issue was discovered during an investigation by the EPA and California Air Resources Board into excess diesel emissions in hundreds of thousands of U.S. vehicles.

The German automaker admitted using illegal software to cheat U.S. pollution tests in 2015, triggering a global backlash against diesel vehicles that has so far cost it 30 billion euros ($33 billion) in fines, penalties and buyback costs. In May, it set aside an additional 5.5 billion euros in contingent liabilities.

The EPA said Volkswagen understated greenhouse gas emissions by about 220,000 metric tons and it will forfeit EPA credits and credits in the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy program. The exact amount of credits will be subject to approval by EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


The issue reduced fuel economy by about 3.5% on impacted vehicles, VW said, adding customers will receive payments of $5.40 to $24.30 for each month the vehicle is owned or leased.

“Volkswagen is committed to providing customers with transparent fuel economy data for our vehicles, in line with U.S. labeling requirements,” said VW spokesman Pietro Zollino.

The company added the settlement “removes the uncertainty of protracted litigation and does not include any admission of liability or wrongdoing by Volkswagen.”
Does VW do anything except lie and cheat?

More on what SirEdward mentioned: Two days ago, more charges were filed against VAG execs. https://www.irishtimes.com/business/manufacturing/charges-for-vw-executives-mark-latest-bad-day-for-german-carmaker-1.4029894

Charges for VW executives mark latest bad day for German carmaker
Daimler also under pressure in further setback for industry

Wed, Sep 25, 2019, 12:04

Herbert Diess, Volkswagen’s chief executive, at the Frankfurt International Motor Show earlier this month. He and Hans Dieter Pötsch; the chairman of Volkswagen’s supervisory board, and Martin Winterkorn a former chief executive, have been charged with stock market manipulation for not alerting shareholders when they learned authorities were investigating the company’s diesel emissions. Photograph: The New York Times

Herbert Diess, Volkswagen’s chief executive, at the Frankfurt International Motor Show earlier this month. He and Hans Dieter Pötsch; the chairman of Volkswagen’s supervisory board, and Martin Winterkorn a former chief executive, have been charged with stock market manipulation for not alerting shareholders when they learned authorities were investigating the company’s diesel emissions.

Volkswagen was supposed to turn the corner this year from the shadow of a costly diesel emissions scandal, with a new emphasis on electric vehicles, a new logo and a new commitment to ethical behaviour. But on Tuesday, German prosecutors charged the carmaker’s two highest-ranking executives with stock market manipulation for failing to inform shareholders of an investigation in the US that led to its conviction for emissions cheating. The allegations against Hans Dieter Pötsch, chairman of Volkswagen’s supervisory board, and Herbert Diess, chief executive, mean that the world’s largest carmaker will be led by criminal defendants as it tries to refashion itself as a climate-friendly manufacturer of affordable electric cars. The prosecutors, in Braunschweig, also charged Martin Winterkorn, a former Volkswagen chief executive.

The day brought bad news for another German carmaker, too, again tied to an emissions scandal. Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz cars, agreed to pay a fine of €870 million in Germany for selling diesel cars that polluted more than allowed. The company has disclosed that it is also under investigation in the US. The legal actions were a further setback to the German car industry, the backbone of the economy, when it is struggling with declining sales and a transition to electric vehicles. At Volkswagen, Mr Pötsch and Dr Diess indicated that they would stay in their jobs, and there was no sign of any move by other members of Volkswagen’s supervisory board or its largest shareholder to oust either of them. Both men, who could be sentenced to up to five years in prison if convicted, denied the charges against them, as did Mr Winterkorn.


Emissions cheating software
Mr Pötsch, who was chief financial officer of Volkswagen throughout the period when the company was installing illegal emissions cheating software in millions of vehicles, is a close confidant of the Porsche and Piëch families, which own a majority of Volkswagen’s voting shares. Volkswagen’s other major shareholder is the German state of Lower Saxony, which owns 20 per cent of the voting stock. Outside shareholders are heavily outnumbered and have little influence. A spokeswoman for Stephan Weil, the state prime minister and a member of the Volkswagen supervisory board, said through a spokeswoman that he would have no immediate comment. Dr Diess’ lawyers issued a statement in which he vowed “to carry out his duties in the company with absolute commitment.” Mr Pötsch’s lawyer, Norbert Scharf, said in a statement that his client “has nothing to blame himself for.”

Volkswagen has acknowledged that its company culture had become toxic. Under a 2017 plea agreement that resolved criminal charges in the United States, Volkswagen promised to change its ways. Overseeing the ethics drive is Hiltrud Dorothea Werner, a member of Volkswagen’s management board. She defended the accused executives on Tuesday.
“The company has meticulously investigated this matter with the help of internal and external legal experts for almost four years,” Ms Werner said in a statement. “The result is clear: The allegations are groundless.” But the case could also have financial consequences for Volkswagen. Shareholders have sued, seeking damages that could reach $10 billion (€9 billion). At issue is when the Volkswagen executives learned that the company was under investigation in the US for deploying software that produced artificially low emissions in diesel cars when they were being tested. German law requires senior managers to warn shareholders of events that could affect the stock price.

Prosecutors said on Tuesday that Mr Winterkorn had known no later than May 2015 that the company could face serious penalties in the United States. Mr Pötsch was informed at the end of June 2015 and Dr Diess at the end of that July, prosecutors said. The three defendants withheld information from shareholders in order to protect the Volkswagen share price, prosecutors said. Volkswagen shareholders did not learn of the cheating until the Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice of violation in September 2015. Volkswagen’s share price fell by almost half, and the cost of the scandal has since topped $30 billion in court settlements and fines.

Particular blow
The allegations are a particular blow to Dr Diess, a former BMW executive who arrived only months before the EPA publicly accused Volkswagen of cheating. He has been trying to restore Volkswagen’s image by changing the authoritarian, win-at-all-costs company culture that helped foster the scandal. This month, he presided over the flashy introduction at the Frankfurt International Motor Show of a battery-powered hatchback, the ID.3. Volkswagen has staked its future on what it says will be a family of moderately priced electric vehicles, making emission-free transportation accessible to middle-class buyers. Volkswagen also introduced a cleaner logo.

“Neither the facts nor the law justify the charges,” lawyers for Dr Diess said in a statement. “Newly arrived in July 2015, Dr Diess was not in any position to foresee the magnitude of the economic consequences actually resulting from the diesel emissions fraud.”

Dr Diess received moral support on Tuesday from Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla. “Herbert Diess is doing more than any big carmaker to go electric,” Musk wrote on Twitter. “The good of the world should come first. For what it’s worth, he has my support.”

The charges also put pressure on Mr Pötsch, who was chief financial officer when the scandal came to light in 2015 and was responsible for communicating with shareholders. As supervisory board chairman, he oversees senior management and presides over the annual shareholders meeting.

“The indictment against Mr Pötsch is unfounded,” his lawyer said in a statement. “In the summer of 2015, no obligation to inform the capital market arose at any time even from a purely capital market law perspective.”

Trusted assurances
Mr Winterkorn’s lawyer, Felix Dörr, said in a statement that the former chief executive had trusted assurances from Volkswagen employees that excess emissions in diesel cars were the result of a technical problem, which could be worked out with regulators in the United States. Volkswagen later admitted that it had programmed the vehicles to recognize when an emissions test was underway and to crank up pollution controls so the cars were deemed compliant. On the road, the cars polluted far more than allowed. Mr Winterkorn “had no prior knowledge of the intentional use of forbidden motor management software in diesel passengers cars in the US,” the statement said.

Mr Winterkorn, who resigned days after the scandal burst into public view, already faces fraud charges in connection with the emissions cheating, which he has denied. – New York Times service

More here, articles more focused on the securities fraud/manipulation side of things:
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-volkswagen-emissions-trial/german-prosecutors-indict-top-vw-bosses-over-emissions-scandal-idUSKBN1W914P

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/24/business/volkswagen-executives-market-manipulation.html

Not a word, not an advertisement to exploit the situation, nothing at all. Either they were a group of very sporty and respectful opponents or they were in deep sh*t themselves. And for sure they are not that sporty.
Not sure how the legalities of advertising work over there, but as I mentioned in the dark dusty past of this thread, you will not see any car company making official statements or running official marketing to directly exploit such a situation over here in the US. Nothing to do with being a good sport or respect, everything to do with "not wanting to be hit with gigantic multibillion dollar lawsuits for slander/libel/defamation." The last time this was tried, IIRC, was a GM dealer attempting to make hay over the Pinto fuel tank issues before the matter had legally been decided/closed. It did not end well for the dealer.
 
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bone

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overe here as long as you stick to facts and not use opinion, you can compare yourself with the competition, nothing they can do about it

"we're better" is not allowed, as it's subjective
"we're faster" is allowed because that's objective
 

Spectre

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overe here as long as you stick to facts and not use opinion, you can compare yourself with the competition, nothing they can do about it

"we're better" is not allowed, as it's subjective
"we're faster" is allowed because that's objective
Yes, and we do get comparison ads between different models, etc., and those are fine. The thing is, you won't see companies attempting to cash in on another company's legal troubles until the case is finished - which usually takes years so by the time everything is finalized and it becomes legal to do so, there's usually no point. Attempting to capitalize on another company's legal woes before the final verdict is reached is a no-no - unless your ad is merely a recitation of the charges with no implications added on, you will be hit with and probably lose the inevitable giant defamation suit as they are to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Juries are pretty consistent about awarding huge dollar amounts to the as-yet-unconvicted party in situations like this.

There's also the fact that if, say, Ford, were to make an ad belittling VW for their current legal problems, VW would not only sue but be able to bring up the Pinto, the Firestone/Explorer fiasco, the Ford truck fire problems,. etc., in their advertising... all items that are done and dusted and therefore fair game. Every brand in the US has incidents like this that they don't want brought up. Add to that the fact that bringing up these old incidents to the attention of the press again will get them to repeat those points for years in any coverage of the company (as mentioned upthread) and you can see why nobody in any marketing or legal department over here thinks "HA HA, VW'S LEGAL PROBLEMS, CHEATERS, CHEATERS" is a good idea for a basis of an ad campaign.
 
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SirEdward

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"not wanting to be hit with gigantic multibillion dollar lawsuits for slander/libel/defamation." The last time this was tried, IIRC, was a GM dealer attempting to make hay over the Pinto fuel tank issues before the matter had legally been decided/closed. It did not end well for the dealer.
I was thinking something along the lines of being respectful to the environment. Like "we care for the environment" and all the rest. Not a direct reference to VW, but a little push towards the environment in the ads. Everybody wanted to hear about cleaner cars in 2015-2016. Almost nobody made a move. Most of them invested heavily on electric later on.
 

Spectre

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I was thinking something along the lines of being respectful to the environment. Like "we care for the environment" and all the rest. Not a direct reference to VW, but a little push towards the environment in the ads. Everybody wanted to hear about cleaner cars in 2015-2016. Almost nobody made a move. Most of them invested heavily on electric later on.
We were actually getting those kinds of ads in the US at the time, prominently from Subaru touting their whole-company enviro-concern.



But this was going on for years before Dieselghazi exploded into mass public awareness (2014 for the first video, 2015 for the second) and I don't recall any major ad theme changes after. 2006 for the below.


The only thing I recall of significance was the sudden disappearance of the persistent (and annoying) VAG Clean Diesel campaigns.


This really irritating ad turned up right around the time Dieselghazi exploded.


Here's some more cringe. (Sad part is that in some states, the state/local governments are now actually doing the Green Police thing.)


Anyway, for the reasons stated in my last post, I think the marketing and more importantly legal departments in the other US market automakers looked at VAG's misfortunes and decided that even though they weren't cheating on their US vehicles, they weren't going to give VAG any opportunity to complain/sue/get money off them and simply continued their existing campaigns - that being the safest way to go and least likely to attract $giant_lawsuit.

I think it should also be said that marketing and legal probably also decided there wasn't any need to try to catch sales by changing marketing. Honestly, VAG's antics when caught and the flood of bad press that resulted was more than enough to drive customers elsewhere. VAG (and specifically the VW brand part of it) is almost an irrelevant percentage of the US car market. Here's the year end 2011 marketshare numbers, from well before Dieselgate was even a suspicion in the US.



The math probably indicated it was not worth risking even a frivolous lawsuit to try to suck the relatively few customers away from what is, in the US market, a company that barely even moves the needle in the mainstream market (much of that marketshare is Audi and Porsche).

Given that conditions are radically different between the North American markets and Europe, I have no idea why the Euro market didn't respond as you suggest they should have - but you may be absolutely correct in your proposal as it does make sense. The US market, though - we wouldn't expect to see any marketing campaign changes after such an incident for reasons outlined above, nothing to do with guilt over doing the same thing.
 
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