2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-08-25 09:36
In the emissions scandal, VW negotiated a million dollar settlement with the US plaintiffs to settle the disputes. But a major construction site is still open, because at Audi 85,000 vehicles are still affected because of a prohibited exhaust technology. A hearing will therefore take place this Thursday.
The US judge Charles Breyer lets the lawyers of Volkswagen and numerous US plaintiffs stand again in the "Dieselgate" mammoth case. At the hearing on Thursday (4:00 p.m. CET), however, the focus is primarily on the Group subsidiary Audi.
For months, the manufacturer has failed to present the US authorities with acceptable plans to eliminate the prohibited exhaust technology. Now Breyer finally wants to see detailed proposals. If the car cannot be technically converted to a legal condition, Audi faces expensive buybacks.
85,000 Audi cars affected
In the USA, where "Dieselgate" started rolling in September 2015, the affair has so far mainly centered on around 475,000 VW diesel cars with 2.0-liter engines. In order to settle the emissions lawsuit, VW negotiated the largest comparison in automotive history to date with US plaintiffs: customers and US authorities are to receive up to $ 14.7 billion, and the company is taking another $ 1.8 billion to compensate car dealers and US states at your fingertips.
But a major construction site remains open. Because, according to the authorities, around 85,000 larger diesel cars also have prohibited exhaust technology on board. Here the 3.0-liter engines come from the group subsidiary Audi, which therefore has to take care of damage limitation. In this case too, it all boils down to an expensive comparison. After months of hanging, the responsible US judge Charles Breyer issued an ultimatum - at today's hearing he wants to see detailed plans on how the vehicles can be converted into a legal condition or taken out of service.
Intentions to fraud are denied
The allegations against the Ingolstadt VW subsidiary came up later, so Breyer had given more time to reach an agreement. In addition, the case is somewhat different - although the US authorities accuse both VW and Audi of using an illegal defeat device to trick emissions tests, the programs are not identical. Audi initially denied the allegations and blamed a failure in the approval process for the conflict. One denies fraudulent intent.
The matter is technically highly complex - at least that is what VW lawyer Robert Giuffra emphasizes again and again. Converting all of the tens of thousands of diesel vehicles seems impossible, months of tinkering by Audi engineers has so far been in vain. But Breyer's patience is running out. As early as August, the judge described the fact that the cars were still on the move, although they violated US environmental law, as "unsustainable". At Audi, however, they have recently been confident that they can now deliver a convincing solution.
Lower provisions at Audi
In the meantime the negotiations are mainly about the question of how many of the larger vehicles with 3.0-liter engines - expensive big ships like the Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg, but above all a number of Audi luxury models - have to be bought back. "You have to be prepared for an order of magnitude of two to four billion dollars", estimates the car expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer from the University of Duisburg-Essen. His calculation is based on the comparison that has already been made for the smaller VW vehicles.
The Audi provisions have so far been significantly lower. Ultimately, however, the costs would accrue to Volkswagen AG anyway and its shareholders would be a burden. If there is no agreement with the US authorities, Breyer's court could open a lawsuit against the German car manufacturer. It is unlikely that the VW group will find itself in the dock. But as a threatening backdrop, this scenario continues to swing in the background, as plaintiff's lawyer Elizabeth Cabraser has already made clear. (AG / dpa)
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