Details are beginning to emerge of a proposed deal between Volkswagen and U.S. regulators over the company’s diesel emissions scandal. June 28 is the deadline set by a federal judge for lawyers for the company and several U.S.-agency plaintiffs to come up with a deal.
VW has admitted to knowingly installing devices to deceive regulators about emissions from its cars’ diesel engines. According to publications including Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press, the company will agree to pay $10 billion to compensate customers. In addition, it is expected to pay $4 billion for environmental remediation and to develop cleaner vehicles. A Volkswagen spokesman refused comment, citing confidentiality agreements.
Both General Motors and Toyota have been forced to pay billions for their emissions and sudden acceleration recall scandals. With a market capitalization of $73 billion, the reported $14 billion price tag doesn’t pose an existential threat to Volkswagen. While VW is a very minor player in the U.S. market, worldwide it’s locked in a battle with Toyota for global automotive supremacy. And the company didn’t experience the U.S. economic crisis in the same way American companies did. And Germany’s economy allowed Volkswagen to acquire (and keep) rich assets that could go on sale on now. Porsche, Audi, Bugatti, Bentley, and the Czech car brand Skoda are all under the VW tent.
Critics are calling for more than financial penalties. “It shouldn’t require a federal judge to rule for Volkswagen to do right by its customers,” Democratic Sens. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, both members of the Senate Committee On Commerce, Science, & Transportation said in a joint statement. The senators add, “we continue to call on the Department of Justice to vigorously pursue its criminal investigation against VW executives who knowingly and intentionally deceived regulators.”
Clarence Ditlow heads the Center for Auto Safety says the car companies like Volkswagen shouldn’t be allowed to write a check when they’re caught in wrongdoing: “The only thing that will really change corporate behavior in the auto industry is sending auto industry executives to jail not letting them write bigger checks.”