Tuesday, September 22, 2015

DOJ opens criminal probe of VW’s false test results.

In its lead story, The CBS Evening News (9/21, lead story, 2:10, Pelley, 5.08M) reported the DOJ “is opening a criminal investigation into a scheme by the world’s largest car company to rig its vehicles to cheat on US emissions tests.” While Volkswagen’s CEO apologized, “sorry didn’t cut it with investors, VW’s stock dove off a cliff, down more than 17 percent in the US.” ABC World News (9/21, story 9, 0:25, Muir, 5.84M) reported that Volkswagen is facing a “possible” $18 billion fine “and perhaps criminal charges.”
        The New York Times (9/22, Vlasic, Kessler, Subscription Publication, 11.82M) reports that it was only after threats from the EPA to withhold approval of 2016 Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars, Volkswagen executives admitted on Friday that its diesel vehicles utilized software that aimed to intentionally deceive pollution tests. The Times notes that under the Clean Air Act, Volkswagen could receive a penalty as high as $18 billion, which is much higher than the $35 million maximum that the NHTSA can impose.
        Bloomberg News (9/22, Clothier, 2.66M) reports that on Monday night at an event for the redesigned Passat, Volkswagen’s US head, Michael Horn apologized, saying, “We have totally screwed up.” Bloomberg notes that this scandal will undo the company’s recent efforts to increase sales in the US, which have steadily declined over the last two years.
        In an editorial, USA Today (9/22, 5.23M) says that the “simple word for the accusation against VW is cheating, and on a grand scale.” The company “has sold more than 480,000 ‘clean diesel’ cars with 2-liter engines to U.S. consumers since 2009.”
        Government paid $51 million in subsidies for Volkswagen diesel vehicles. The Los Angeles Times (9/22, Hirsch, 4.07M) estimates that the federal government paid $51 million in green car subsidies for Volkswagen diesel vehicles in the form of tax credits to car buyers. The Natural Resources Defense Council director of clean vehicles and fuels project, Luke Tonachel encouraged regulators to take this amount into account during their investigation and any subsequent determination of a penalty for Volkswagen.

        Volkswagen owners seek buyback on their diesel vehicles. Bloomberg News (9/22, Plungis, 2.66M) reports on Volkswagen customers’ reactions to the latest news, many of whom expressed their desire to be compensated for their purchase. Bloomberg writes that a recall, cash settlement, buyback may be negotiated. Edmunds.com, an online car-buying guide, advised owners to keep their cars for now since they will most likely get a lower price from a dealer. Bloomberg adds however, that some loyal Volkswagen buyers “remain skeptical” about the news, despite the company admission. CBS News (9/22, 7.05M) provides a list of the recalled Volkswagen vehicles. CBS adds that more details on recalled vehicles can be found on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website. 

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