So what's the damage now that it may be all over?
The Dieselgate scandal has been a huge thorn in Volkswagen's side for some time now, but it seems like the whole mess is finally coming to a close. This past week in a US District Court, Volkswagen pleaded to three felonies including conspiracy, obstruction of justice and introducing imported merchandise into the United States by means of false statements. The guilty pleas were accepted by District Judge Sean Cox to settle claims by the EPA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for VW's importation of nonconforming vehicles.
Even though the pleas have been accepted, Automotive News reports that the judge wants more time to consider the $4.3 billion settlement because of the "serious nature" of the crimes. The huge fines are some of the largest in corporate history, and they do not include the massive cost of buying back diesel-equipped models. This is the first time that Volkswagen has pleaded guilty to any criminal conduct in any court, and the company will still feel the effects for some time. The settlement requires VW to submit to an independent monitor for three years as well other checks to ensure that its vehicles comply with future regulations. The sentencing will take place April 21 at 9:30 a.m.
If VW had not settled, it would have been forced to pay between $17 billion and $34 billion. The company issued a statement saying: "Volkswagen deeply regrets the behavior that gave rise to the diesel crisis. The agreements that we have reached with the U.S. government reflect our determination to address misconduct that went against all of the values Volkswagen holds so dear. Volkswagen today is not the same company it was 18 months ago - the change process under way is the biggest in our history. We have taken significant steps to strengthen accountability, increase transparency and transform our corporate culture."
VW will still have to continue to comply with ongoing investigations and finish paying diesel owners who were affected by the scandal. This whole scandal has had a profound effect on the auto industry, and we look forward to seeing VW putting it to bed. As for diesel technology itself, VW, at least, very much wants to move on to advanced EVs instead.