German authorities on Wednesday fined Volkswagen a total of €1 billion (U.S. $1.2 billion)—the maximum penalty legally allowed—resulting from the company’s long-running emissions-cheating scandal.
The Prosecutor’s Office in Braunschweig found that the failings resulted in 10.7 million vehicles being sold to customers in the United States, Canada, and worldwide “with an impermissible software function” between 2007 and 2015.
“Following a thorough examination, Volkswagen AG accepted the fine and it will not lodge an appeal against it,” the company said in a statement. By accepting the fine, Volkswagen said it “admits its responsibility for the diesel crisis” and considers this a major step in putting the emissions-cheating scandal behind it.
“As a result of the administrative order imposing the fine, the active regulatory offence proceedings conducted against Volkswagen will be finally terminated,” the company stated. “Volkswagen assumes that such termination of the proceedings will also have significant positive effects on further active administrative proceedings in Europe against the Volkswagen AG and its subsidiaries.”
As Compliance Week previously reported, the emissions-testing scandal dates back to 2008, when several top managers who painstakingly spent several years developing what was to be Volkswagen’s most important new diesel engine realized these engines were not able to meet U.S. emissions standards. Not wanting to halt production and toss years of investment down the drain, managers decided instead to evade emissions standards altogether.
Volkswagen confessed in 2015 that it had sold millions of cars with “defeat devices” to evade federal standards on auto emissions and has been choking on its own fumes ever since, trying to clear the air with enforcement authorities.
In January 2017, Volkswagen pleaded guilty and paid a total of $4.3 billion in criminal and civil penalties to U.S. authorities. At Compliance Week 2018, Hiltrud Werner, head of integrity and legal affairs at Volkswagen Group, spoke candidly about how Volkswagen is recovering from the scandal and trying to emerge a stronger, better company.