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Porsche, Fiat face multimillion-dollar payouts in separate diesel scandals

Porsche logo.
Enlarge/ The Porsche logo is seen during the New York International Auto Show on April 18, 2019 in New York, United States.

On Tuesday, Germany’s Stuttgart Public Prosecutor’s Office issued a fine notice of €535 million ($598.99 million) to Porsche for its part in the Volkswagen Group diesel emissions scandal that broke in 2015.

Until recently, German authorities have been reserved in their actions against the VW Group brands—Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche—that installed illegal software on their diesel vehicles to conceal the true amount of nitrogen oxide emissions that were released during real-world driving. Instead, US authorities have been at the forefront of pursuing VW Group and its executives in attempts to make cheated customers and citizens whole.

But in April, German prosecutors filed their first criminal indictment of VW Group executives, including former CEO Martin Winterkorn.

A statement from Porsche confirmed the fine notice, adding that “the fine notice comprehensively ends the administrative offense proceedings” conducted by the public prosecutor against Porsche.

Porsche noted that the public prosecutor accused the company of negligence with respect to duties that were carried out “several levels below the executive board.” VW Group has been aggressive in its defense of its executives, often claiming that the company’s authorities had no knowledge of the illegal software placed on VW Group cars. In several instances, this assertion has proven false.

“Porsche AG has never developed and produced diesel engines,” the company wrote in a press release. “In the fall of 2018, Porsche announced its complete withdrawal from diesel and is fully focused on the development of cutting-edge gasoline engines, high-performance hybrid powertrains, and electric mobility.”

Judge approves Fiat payout

Stateside, Fiat Chrysler is the latest automaker to face a multimillion-dollar settlement payout over illegal software built to improve diesel vehicle emissions numbers. Fiat and the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the settlement in late January, which included $305 million to compensate customers, as well as a number of other multimillion-dollar fines to mitigate the effect of the pollution.

Late last week, a judge finally approved the settlement, which more than 100,000 vehicle owners will be able to take advantage of. “Most owners will receive $3,075 payments,” according to Reuters. “Current owners and lease-holders have until February 2021 to submit a claim and until May 2021 to complete the repair and receive compensation, while former owners have until August to submit a claim.”

Interestingly, automotive parts supplier Robert Bosch GmbH will pay $27.5 million of Fiat’s civil settlement with customers because it provided the illegal emissions control software in question. Bosch also provided the illegal software in the VW Group scandal.

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