VW Emissions ScandalIn 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency discovered that Volkswagen vehicles were not operating as they were in emissions testing. A half-million diesel Volkswagen models were cited for emissions violations, roughly 10.5 million vehicles worldwide. Volkswagen claimed that a new line of vehicles ran on “clean diesel,” but it was proven that they did not. The media coined the scandal as “Dieselgate.”
Volkswagen vehicles were compliant with federal emissions levels while in the test mode, but once the vehicles were on the road, the computer in the cars switched to an entirely separate mode that changed the way the cars run. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ultimately charged Volkswagen, two of its subsidiaries, and its former CEO, Martin Winterkorn, “for defrauding U.S. investors, raising billions of dollars through the corporate bond and fixed income markets while making a series of deceptive claims about the environmental impact of the company’s ‘clean diesel’ fleet.” Upon investigation, Audi and Porsche were also found to have rigged their vehicles to illegally pass emissions tests.
As of 2019, Volkswagen has paid over 30 billion euros on penalties, restitution and settlement lawsuits.
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