Former Volkswagen chief engineer arrested for dieselgate

Javier Stokes
September 30, 2017

Volkswagen says it expects to take charges of about United States dollars 2.9 billion in the third quarter to cover the costs of buying back and retrofitting diesel cars in North America.

Europe's biggest automaker admitted in September 2015 that it had used illegal software to cheat US diesel emissions tests.

Volkswagen added provisions of about 2.5 billion euros ($3 billion) on Friday to the mounting total from its diesel emissions scandal, which has already cost the company around 20 billion euros.

Separately, Porsche SE, which owns a 30.8-per cent stake in VW and tracks its earnings, said the new provision would also affect its results, but stuck to the wide range for its expected 2017 post-tax profit of €2.1-3.1 billion.

Volkswagen is taking a surprise US$2.95 billion charge in the third quarter because the effort to retrofit or buy back USA diesel vehicles that were part of an emissions cheating scandal is more complex than expected.

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Earlier this year former Volkswagen Group engineer James Liang was sentenced to 40 months prison in the USA for his role in the emissions-dodging scandal, while former Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt will be sentenced in the USA on December 6.

The charge will take a bite out of the financial results scheduled for release on October 27, the Wolfsburg-based company said, explaining that the make-good plan in response to the scandal is "proving to be far more technically complex and time-consuming" than anticipated.

German media named the arrested suspect as Wolfgang Hatz, who stepped down from his post on Porsche's management board past year after being suspended over the Dieselgate investigation. Hatz join Volkswagen in 2001, ran Audi's engine development program until 2007, then was made a board member at Porsche AG, Volkswagen's sports-car maker, in charge of research and development. He was suspended after the diesel emissions test-cheating was exposed. "Customers have to wait longer for their vehicles to be repaired".

The company is scheduled to present third-quarter financial results late next month.

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