“The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine” – you’ve probably heard this quote so many times but it’s not thunder or any other kind of divine retribution, but the German court has finally closed another chapter in VW’s diesel scandal. This time, it’s about Audi and its almost 5 million vehicles sold between 2004 and 2018. The fine is 800 million Euros (950 million dollars).
Just like other diesel-powered vehicles from the VW group, Audi’s models were also equipped with software that cheats on emission tests. If you have a good memory, you probably remember that Volkswagen admitted that more than 11 million vehicles were rigged with this software and sold worldwide. This includes Europe, North America and many other parts of the world.
The problem with diesel engines from Audi, just like with all others from the VW Group, is in a high emission of nitrogen oxides. Installing this “cheating” software seemed like a much cheaper solution for the company. This fine, as well as the upcoming ones, will bring a bit of justice, but permanent consequences on the environment will remain.
These chemical compounds are responsible for air pollution in so many ways. Smog, acid rain, tropospheric ozone are some of the consequences. According to the European Environmental Agency, these compounds are responsible for more than 75.000 pre-mature deaths only in 2014. These numbers are just for Europe. On the other side of the Atlantic, scientists proved that nitrogen oxides are critical for any type of lung disease, while respiratory infections susceptibility increases.
Prosecutors in Munich stated that the problem was in lack of proper corporate oversight by Audi’s management. The process won’t end with this fine, and it definitely won’t affect investigations of each individual of the carmaker from Ingolstadt. The former CEO Rupert Stadler remains in jail, while many executives, including Martin Winterkorn, are facing criminal charges in North America. So far, two Volkswagen executives ended in U.S. prison.
These oversights enabled so many violations by various individuals, which caused massive economic gains. Just imagine all the competitive advantages that Audi had all these years. Not to mention development costs of other carmakers that actually managed to meet emissions standards around the world.
This chapter of the process is over. Audi has admitted its responsibility and accepts the fine. This means significant undercuts of financial targets for the current year but that probably won’t be the only consequence. Last month, another huge process started. Deka Investments, as well as other shareholders, demand a 9-billion compensation. Of course, they will have to prove that the company’s management was aware of all these manipulations.
So far, this emission scandal cost VW Group around 30 Billion Euros and it looks like there are many more costs to come. The most recent, 1-Billion fine was imposed in June, in Braunschweig.