Monday

26th Sep 2016

Investigation

US states seek 'substantial penalties' from VW

  • Decision to use cheating software in diesel cars was taken as far back as 1999, according to a US lawsuit (Photo: Robert Couse-Baker)

Volkswagen's emission fraud began earlier than previously thought, was deliberately done to mislead regulators, executed with the knowledge of upper management, and was covered up.

That harsh summary of what became known as Dieselgate, was given on Tuesday (19 July) by three United States law enforcement chiefs - the attorneys general in the states New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland - who announced they wanted “substantial penalties” from the German industrial giant.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“The allegations against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche reveal a culture of deeply rooted corporate arrogance, combined with a conscious disregard for the rule of law or the protection of public health and the environment,” New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman said in his lawsuit, according to US media.

He said that internal documents from Volkswagen Group (VW) proved that the company decided to use cheating software to turn off emissions filtering systems in diesel cars as far back as 1999.

It was at VW's daughter company Audi where engineers tried to solve a noise problem in their cars' diesel engine. They found a solution, but one that made the car emit more pollution. To still pass the emissions tests, the noise reduction tool was switched off during the test.

The software was later used in other cars as well. Senior executives covered up evidence, the lawsuit said.

Schneiderman called the strategy a “willful and systematic scheme of cheating by dozens of employees at all levels of the company”.

The lawsuit comes less than a month since VW settled with American consumers and the US government for around €13.2 billion.

Schneiderman's counterpart from Massachusetts, Maura Healey, said that regardless of any settlement, state environment laws were violated.

“With today’s action, we want to make clear to all auto manufacturers that violating laws designed to protect our environment and our public health is unacceptable and will be punished with significant penalties,” said Healey.

Schneiderman added tough words of his own.

“These suits should serve as a siren in every corporate board room, that if any company engages in this type of calculated and systematic illegality, we will bring the full force of the law - and seek the stiffest possible sanctions - to protect our citizens,” he said.

The tough language by the US authorities stands in sharp contrast with the situation in the EU.

Although some countries have carried out investigations, Volkswagen has not yet been criminally charged for the use of cheating software, or defeat devices, which are banned under EU law.

New York attorney general press conference

Investigation

One year on: Dieselgate keeps getting bigger

One year ago, it emerged that VW had cheated on emission tests in what came to be called the Dieselgate affair. EUobserver looked at how it happened and what the EU did to stop it.

Investigation

Dieselgate: Looking under the hood

EUobserver will closely follow the hearings and research done by the EU parliament's inquiry committee, as well as investigate aspects of the diesel emissions scandal not covered by the committee's mandate.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. GoogleBringing Education to Refugees in Lebanon With the Clooney Foundation for Justice
  2. HuaweiAn Industry-leading ICT Solution Provider and Building a Better World
  3. World VisionUN Refugees Meeting a Wasted Opportunity to Improve the Lives of Millions of Children
  4. Belgrade Security ForumCan Democracy Survive Global Disorder?
  5. YouthProAktivEntrepreneurship, Proactivity, Innovation - Turn Ideas Into Action #IPS2016
  6. GoogleTrimming the Waste-Line: Weaving Circular Economy Principles Into Our Operations
  7. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeDon't Miss the Mega Conference to Master Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  8. Martens CentreFighting Terrorism: Do we have what it takes? 26 September, Brussels
  9. ACCAKaras Report on Access to Finance for SMEs in a Capital Markets Union
  10. Centre Maurits Coppieters"I still believe we can change Europe" Said David Grosclaude
  11. World VisionThe Child Protection Index to be Launched in Brussels on 28 September 2016
  12. HuaweiDigital Transformation: Unleashing Europe’s Potential

Latest News

  1. Climate change and migration vote on the Agenda This WEEK
  2. Irish and Polish people march for abortion
  3. EU admits 'unrealistic' to close TTIP deal this year
  4. LGBT rights at stake in Georgia election
  5. UK to start Brexit talks early 2017, Johnson says
  6. Migrant smugglers mostly Turks, says Europol
  7. Canada woos sceptical EU left on trade deal
  8. EU rushing to ratify climate agreement