Volkswagen has to pay $15 billion, but the researchers will barely get anything.
The research team that exposed Volkswagen's Dieselgate did so with a project budget of $70,000. This underfunded test has resulted in VW being forced to pay over $15 billion. The research facility at the University of West Virginia has an annual operating budget of $1.5 million, which is set to be cut. You may think that the researchers who discovered Dieselgate would be rewarded with bigger grants, but this is not the case. The university's research center is still under financial scrutiny.
Dan Carder, director of the university’s Center for Alternative Fuels Engines and Emissions, says that “I still have sleepless nights trying to figure out how I’m going to pay the guys the next pay cycle.” Part of VW's settlement is a $4.7 billion payment to the federal and state governments for research into clean transportation which Carder can only get a small sliver of. The $70,000 that was eventually used to expose Volkswagen was initially given by the International Council on Clean Transportation to prove how automakers could meet rigorous nitrogen emissions targets. The research went over budget by $20,000 to $30,000 and was never expected to have a large impact.
Carder says that when the Dieselgate scandal broke, he was covered in grease working in a campus lab. He says that when his phone was blowing up with messages, someone had been in an accident in one of his labs. His exact words were “I’m thinking, where are our crews at? Did something blow up?" Its amazing to think that the team that uncovered the Dieselgate scandal really didn't have any big expectations for their research. It is even more amazing to think that even though Volkswagen is being forced to pay billions of dollars, it will be fine as a company and the researchers who uncovered it are struggling for grant money.