Volkswagen has reached a settlement in the USA – or rather, two settlements, since it had to satisfy both federal regulators and the State of California.
Its troubles are far from over, and the up-to-US$14.7 billion settlement only covers part of the tab, because it only covers US complaints over the software cheat implemented in its 2.0 litre diesel engines. The company still has to cut a separate deal over the same issue in its 3.0 litre vehicles.
Under this settlement, VW will either terminate leases or offer buybacks of 500,000 cars in America.
The DoJ statement also notes that the settlements “do not resolve pending claims for civil penalties … Nor do they address any potential criminal liability”.
The “defeat device” scandal emerged in September 2015. After denials, the company admitted it was cheating, and eventually the world learned how: the cars included software to detect when they were under test, and went into a low-emission “dyno mode” to pass.
A Volvo executive has told Australian journalists the VW hack was an open secret in the auto industry for seven years. Since so many companies share the same systems from the same suppliers – Volvo veteran Kent Falck named Bosch and Denso as examples – it was clear there was no secret technology available to VW to give it such a big lead on its competitors in pollution performance.
Falck reckons nobody said anything because the existence of the cheat couldn't be proved, which to The Register glosses over the obvious point that nobody was looking all that hard. ®