Five years after the hugely damaging Dieselgate scandal, Volkswagen AG is again under scrutiny from authorities who reportedly raided the automaker's headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany on Tuesday. Reuters reported that this new probe into Volkswagen was launched to confiscate documents pertaining to the brand's new diesel cars, specifically those outfitted with EA 288 engines, which served as replacements for the diesel motors at the focal point of the original issue, and documents from those involved in the case.
Post the authorities' raid, Volkswagen claimed company officials were fully cooperating with the investigation but added that the brand viewed this recent seizure as baseless given it had supposedly disclosed information on both the engine and parties involved in its diesel manufacturing to relevant authorities beforehand.
Since Dieselgate, Volkswagen's replacement EA 288 engines have tested in simulations to be emissions compliant without any diesel filter failure. The company also states emphatically that Volkswagen removed any and all special defeat devices, which were fitted to those EA 189 diesel engines at the heart of the scandal.
After a thorough time being raked over the coals by federal authorities in both the U.S. and Germany, Volkswagen has paid off hefty government-levied fines—$15 billion worth from the U.S. government, making it the biggest automotive settlement in history. Another $599 million were brought against Porsche for its role in the scheme—to watching a number of its prior corporate hierarchy see criminal charges brought against them.
Corporate executives like Volkswagen’s ex-CEO Martin Winterkorn and Audi’s former chief Rupert Stadler were both charged with fraud on multiple counts in German- and U.S.-based courts. They’ve since been subject to further investigations, while authorities continue to sift through documents and filings concerning other employees, which is part of the basis for this latest document seizure.
Investors and shareholders haven’t sat on the sidelines either, suing the company for over $10.7 billion.
But the significant financial ramifications didn’t end with fines, court fees, and lawsuits, as Volkswagen Group Auto—which houses brands like Audi, Porsche, Skoda, Lamborghini, and Bentley—were further forced to buy back and recall millions of affected diesel vehicles worldwide. Some 8.5 million cars were recalled in Europe during the peak of the investigation in 2015. However, in a recent report from The Guardian, some 43 million cars were tampered with as a part of Dieselgate and about three-quarters of those cars remain on the road today.
As a result of this shameful mark on the company's history, the automaker is attempting a total shift in future products, swapping the internal combustion-powered vehicles for hybrid and full electrification. The results speak for themselves, with Audi debuting the e-tron SUV, e-tron Sportback, and forthcoming e-tron GT, Porsche debuting a number of hybrid-electric cars and SUVs as well as the all-electric Taycan, and Volkswagen itself is readying an entire electric lineup with the ID series which is said will be ready for public consumption next year.
What's to be gleaned off Germany's continued interest in Volkswagen's diesel issues is that the authorities are serious about holding the company responsible for its intentional cheating and public misinformation campaign. There also appears to be no end in sight for those who oversaw the company during and before Dieselgate.
We’ll continue report on this as more information becomes available.
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