Volkswagen Pleads Guilty to Three Felonies in Emissions Scandal
U.S. District Court Judge Will Sentence VW After Considering Settlement
Volkswagen officially pled guilty to three felonies in U.S. District Court today relating to its diesel-emissions scandal that first came to light in 2015.
The guilty pleas came for conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and introducing imported merchandise into the United States by means of false statements. According to Automotive News, it marked the first time Volkswagen has admitted to criminal wrongdoing in any court in the world.
The plea agreement is part of a $4.3 billion settlement reached with the U.S. Justice Department in January, a settlement that U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox will carefully consider before sentencing the company. Judge Cox set an April 21 sentencing date, at which time he will decide to approve the terms of the agreement, according to Reuters.
Volkswagen will also shell out more than $10 billion to buy back the affected diesel vehicles. As we learned in September 2015, several Volkswagen and Audi diesel models manufactured between 2008 and 2015 were found to use engine-management software that would artificially limit emissions during laboratory tests, then deactivate during real-world driving. Such technology enabled the cars to emit up to 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxides while still passing strict emissions testing.
The effects of the scandal have included the resignations of former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn and VW of America CEO Michael Horn, among other executives. A former emissions compliance executive was even arrested by the FBI while vacationing in Florida, leading the company to caution its current staff to avoid traveling to the U.S.
One other result of the scandal is Volkswagen’s increased stake in developing electric cars. Porsche may be a recipient of such a vehicle, with an all-electric SUV reportedly in development.