Volkswagen Dieselgate update: Fix deadline may pass again, Mercedes sued for diesel cheating, too

April 11, 2016

It's tough to keep up with all the news about Volkswagen's 11 million illegally equipped diesels, so we've summed up some of the biggest Dieselgate stories of the past week:

Volkswagen may miss fix deadline again: In February, a federal judge gave Volkswagen until March 24 to submit a fix for America's 482,000 2.0-liter Audi and VW "clean diesel" vehicles equipped with emissions-test-cheating software. Volkswagen missed that deadline, but the judge was totally cool with it, because he said that the company was making significant progress in its efforts to find a solution to the problem. He extended the deadline to April 21, which is seven months after news of the Dieselgate scandal first broke.

Though that might seem like plenty of time to find an appropriate fix, one official closely involved with the talks says that Volkswagen may miss the April deadline, too. The Environmental Protection Agency's Gina McCarthy describes talks with Volkswagen as "robust", but isn't sure a deal will be reached by next Thursday. 

What will happen to Volkswagen if that deadline passes remains to be seen, but it almost certainly depends on EPA reports about Volkswagen's degree of cooperation in finding a fix for the 482,000 smaller U.S. models, as well as 85,000 3.0-liter diesels from Audi, Porsche, and VW registered in America.

VW dealers sue: Though VW dealers have been trying to avoid airing their many grievances with Volkswagen in court, some shops have had enough. Three VW dealerships belonging to the Napleton Automotive Group have filed suit against the German automaker, describing Volkswagen's actions as a "criminal racketeering enterprise". Complaining about Volkswagen's lack of communication with dealers and its lack of a clear plan to resolve the situation, the lawsuit accuses the automaker of fraud.

Mercedes-Benz owners sue for diesel cheating: Since news of Dieselgate broke last September, consumers and regulators have been casting wary eyes at diesels from every automaker. Now, owners of Mercedes-Benz BlueTEC vehicles say that their cars are likely equipped with cheat software, and they've filed a class-action suit (notably, through the Hagens Berman law firm, which is handling the lawsuit from VW dealers mentioned above). Owners claim that their cars produce more nitrogen oxide emissions on road tests than in lab tests, which suggests the presence of some cheating system. Mercedes-Benz's parent company, Daimler, has called the suit "unfounded".

2017 Porsche Macan delayed because of Dieselgate: Volkswagen's diesel scandal has caused regulators at the state and federal level to be a fair bit more cautious before approving vehicles for sale in the U.S. Even gas-powered vehicles like the 2017 Porsche Macan have been affected--at least in 13 states that abide by California Air Resources Board regulations. In other states, though, it's already on sale.

Volkswagen may cut board bonuses: Facing pressure to curtail bonuses to Volkswagen managers, the company's CEO Matthias Mueller may ask board members to accept a 30 percent reduction in their bonus checks, too. Because money, obviously.

Yes, there's a Dieselgate documentary in the works: Can't wait for the Volkswagen Dieselgate movie, possibly starring Leonardo DiCaprio? Never fear, because there's a documentary in the works about all the mishegas. While Leo & Co. wait for author Jack Ewing to write the tell-all Too Big To Fail, upon which they'll base their movie, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Steve Kalafer is already hard at work on a documentary about the scandal entitled Backfire: The Volkswagen Fraud of the Century. Interestingly, Ewing is a VW dealer, though he says that he'll remain completely impartial during the filming and editing process.

Note: For purposes of clarity, "Volkswagen" has been used to refer to the Volkswagen Group parent company, while "VW" has been used to refer to the company's popular mass-market brand of automobiles.

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