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GM bets on a diesel revival

Nick Gibbs, Automotive News  /  June 23, 2018

TURIN — This northern Italian industrial city is famous for being the home of Fiat, and therefore FCA, but it's also home to a key operation in General Motors' drive to reduce fuel consumption in its combustion engines in the U.S. and globally.

GM Powertrain Torino is where the automaker develops its new diesel powertrains, and despite selling the bulk of its European operations to France's PSA Group last year, GM is holding on to and even investing in the Turin technical center as its ambitions for the fuel grow in markets outside of Europe.

"We have an important strategy around diesel. We are working to keep [U.S. sales] increasing," Pierpaolo Antonioli, head of GM's Turin development center, said on the sidelines of the Automotive News Europe Congress here this month.

GM Powertrain Torino, born out of the ashes of the failed GM-Fiat powertrain alliance, employs 750 people, including some of the industry's most capable diesel engineers. Among its creations are the Duramax 3.0-liter straight-six diesel engine announced in January for the new Chevrolet Silverado full-size pick-up, which is expected to crack 30 mpg. The unit is the first to be built using GM's new diesel engine architecture developed in Italy that follows on from the modular Cylinder Set Strategy first used in gasoline engines, Antonioli said.

GM said it sold more than 600,000 diesels globally in 2017 — 360,000 by the GM group, according to LMC Automotive, and the rest by Opel. GM also sold diesels in the U.S., Thailand, Brazil, Australia, India and South Korea.

Chevrolet claims it offers more diesel models than any other brand in the U.S., with diesel variants available for the Equinox, Cruze, Colorado, Express, Silverado 1500 and Silverado HD.

GM currently buys its Turin-developed four-cylinder diesel engines for the Equinox and Cruze from PSA* following Opel's sale. Those could be replaced by a new variant of the CSS diesel range expected next year. Antonioli said the CSS architecture includes four-cylinder and three-cylinder diesels.

Antonioli said he was confident diesel would bounce back from the damage caused by revelations that VW and other makers were cheating diesel emissions tests, and GM has said it hopes to capture some disaffected VW buyers as the brand shifts away from diesel.

"Everybody was caught a little bit by surprise by the scandal," he said. "It took time to react and start to say that diesel is not the dirty guy. In my opinion its reputation can be recovered."

* Groupe PSA is a French manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles sold under the Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Opel and Vauxhall brands.

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Kia upgraded 2018 Sportage features new 1.6L diesel, 2.0L diesel 48V mild-hybrid technology

Green Car Congress  /  July 24, 2018

Kia Motors’ upgraded 2018 Kia Sportage (earlier post), the brand’s global best-selling vehicle, offers a 2.0-liter diesel engine now available with Kia’s new eight-speed automatic transmission, and—in certain markets—48-volt mild-hybrid power (earlier post). The Sportage is also available with an all-new 1.6-liter diesel engine, employing the company’s new SmartStream efficiency technologies.

These new powertrains deliver greater performance and efficiency, and sit alongside the Sportage’s range of gasoline engines. The 48V diesel mild-hybrid unit is the first to be launched as part of Kia’s global powertrain electrification strategy. With this development, Kia becomes the first manufacturer to offer hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric and 48-volt mild-hybrid technology across its full model line-up.

New ‘SmartStream’ 1.6-liter diesel engine. The 2018 Sportage is available in Europe and Korea with Kia’s new 1.6-liter, four-cylinder diesel engine. The cleanest diesel engine the company has ever made, the new power unit replaces the Sportage’s existing 1.7-liter CRDi (common-rail direct injection) diesel engine. Developed with Kia’s ‘SmartStream’ innovations, the new 1.6-liter engine delivers greater efficiency and fuel economy.

Combustion is made more efficient with the adoption of a new high-efficiency fuel injection system and revised valvetrain. The engine’s four reshaped cylinder heads create a bowl shape in the combustion chamber for a more equal distribution of air and fuel from the injectors to aid combustion. The new turbocharger system, integrated into the cylinder head, recirculates hot exhaust gases more efficiently to balance performance and efficiency more effectively.

Elements of the crankshaft and pistons have been redesigned to reduce mechanical friction within the engine, allowing it to rotate more freely to further enhance efficiency. These modifications are supported by a new Integrated Thermal Management System (ITMS), further aiding heating and efficiency.

The ITMS intelligently distributes coolant throughout the cylinder head, engine block, radiator, and transmission oil heat exchange, enabling the engine to warm up to optimal operating temperatures sooner. The system more closely manages engine temperatures throughout the course of a drive for maximum efficiency.

Kia’s new SmartStream engine also benefits from reduced weight compared to its 1.7-liter predecessor. The cylinder block and head are both cast in aluminum, and the smaller displacement renders the engine 18 kg (40 lbs) lighter than that which it replaces, reducing overall vehicle weight. Smaller, lighter components also reduce component inertia throughout the engine.

The new 1.6-liter ‘SmartStream’ engine is available with a choice of power outputs: 115 or 136 ps. Driving the front wheels via six-speed manual transmission as standard, 136 ps models are also available with all-wheel drive and a seven-speed double-clutch transmission. In markets adhering to the Euro 6d TEMP emissions standard, the engine also features Kia’s selective catalytic reduction (SCR) active emissions control technology to reduce NOx and diesel particulate matter. Idle Stop & Go (ISG) is also available.

The engine’s SmartStream technologies enable the car to travel up to 16.3 km/l (6.13 l/100 km or 38.3 mpg US) on the Worldwide-harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) combined cycle (in markets following the Euro 6d TEMP emissions standard)—the highest fuel economy of any mid-sized CUV.

In Europe, one of the largest markets for the new engine, CO2emissions are rated from 126 g/km for 115 ps models, and 123 g/km for higher-powered models (combined, WLTP, converted back to New European Driving Cycle)

2.0-liter diesel engine with new 8-speed auto and 48V mild-hybrid power. The 2018 Sportage continues to offer a high-powered 2.0-liter diesel engine, with the latest model introducing new powertrain options for buyers depending on market.

For customers in Europe, the Sportage is the first Kia to be available with the brand’s new 2.0-liter ‘R’ diesel mild-hybrid powertrain. For other global markets, the 2.0-liter diesel engine is now available with a smooth-shifting new eight-speed automatic transmission (without the mild-hybrid system).

The mild-hybrid system has been engineered to deliver greater efficiency, delivering and recuperating electric power to supplement the internal combustion engine seamlessly. Acceleration is aided by power from a compact 0.44 kWh 48-volt lithium-ion battery, and engine-off time is extended with the adoption of a new Mild-Hybrid Starter-Generator (MHSG) unit. The MHSG is connected by belt to the engine’s crankshaft, and switches seamlessly between motor and generator modes.

In motor-mode the battery is discharged under acceleration, providing up to 12 kW of electric power assistance to the engine, to reduce engine load and emissions. Under deceleration—when braking, or coasting towards a junction or downhill—the MHSG switches to generator mode, recuperating energy from the crankshaft to recharge the battery on-the-go.

An advanced Electronic Control Unit (ECU) calculates the most efficient use of available energy and adjusts accordingly, taking into account the amount of charge remaining in the car’s batteries.

The battery and MHSG also support a new Moving Stop & Start function. If the battery has sufficient charge, the combustion engine turns off automatically during in-gear deceleration and braking. The MHSG seamlessly re-ignites the engine when the driver presses the throttle pedal.

The compact nature of the mild-hybrid powertrain made it relatively straightforward to integrate into the Sportage’s existing architecture. The 48-volt battery is located beneath the trunk floor, minimizing the impact on practicality. Because the MHSG integrates directly with the engine, driving the crankshaft via a belt, there was little need to repackage the engine bay.

In Europe, equipped with Kia’s Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) active emissions control technology, the new mild-hybrid powertrain can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 4% on the Worldwide-harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP). Tested on WLTP and converted back to NEDC, CO2 emissions for the new powertrain are rated in Europe from 138 g/km for models equipped with a manual transmission, and from 149 g/km when paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission (combined).

The new powertrain is paired with the Sportage’s all-wheel drive system, transmitting power via six-speed manual or a newly-adopted eight-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain produces 185 ps and 400 N·m torque.

For selected global markets, the 2.0-liter diesel engine is available to buyers with a choice of front- and all-wheel drive, as well as a six-speed manual, in addition to the optional new eight-speed automatic transmission.

The line-up of gasoline engines remains the same in the upgraded Sportage, and varies by market. The Sportage can be equipped with a choice of two T-GDi (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) engines with 1.6-liter or 2.0-liter displacement. Three naturally-aspirated engines are also available – a 2.0-liter MPI (multi-point injection) engine, as well as 1.6-liter and 2.4-liter GDi engines.

The new mid-sized crossover utility vehicle (CUV) also features a refreshed exterior and interior design, as well as new safety and infotainment technologies.

Depending on market, the upgraded Sportage adopts Kia’s latest advanced driving assistance systems, including Smart Cruise Control with Stop&Go, an Surround View Monitor for easier parking maneuvers, and Driver Attention Warning, to combat fatigue and inattentiveness at the wheel. Customers have a choice of Kia’s new infotainment systems: a 7.0-inch touchscreen, or a new frameless 8.0-inch infotainment system.

The Sportage has become a major contributor to Kia’s global success as the CUV segment continues to grow. The Sportage has introduced millions of buyers around the world to the Kia brand, and it now accounts for one in six Kia cars sold globally. It represents everything that Kia stands for as a brand – great design, the latest technologies, and high quality and reliability. The 2018 model is more compelling than ever, with a range of new powertrain advances, an updated design, and new features to further improve safety, comfort and convenience.

—Ho Sung Song, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Global Operations Division, Kia Motors Corporation

Total worldwide sales of the Sportage reached more than 450,000 in 2017, with one sold somewhere in the world every 69 seconds. The five-millionth Sportage was built in March 2018, three months into the car’s 25th year on sale, following its introduction in 1993. The Sportage is produced at two Kia manufacturing facilities: in Žilina, Slovakia for European customers, and Gwangju, South Korea for most other markets.

Global sales of the upgraded 2018 Kia Sportage commence during the third quarter of 2018.

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A friend of mine bought a new Chevy Equinox Diesel all wheel drive. He's averaging over 40mpg. 

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VW's Diess learned about emissions software months before scandal

Edward Taylor, Reuters  /  August 18, 2018

FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen AG CEO Herbert Diess was told about the existence of cheating software in cars two months before regulators blew the whistle on a multi-billion exhaust emissions scandal, German magazine Der Spiegel said.

Der Spiegel's story, based on recently unsealed documents from the Braunschweig prosecutor's office, raises questions about whether VW informed investors in a timely manner about the scope of a scandal which it said has cost it more than $27 billion in penalties and fines. 

Volkswagen's senior management, which has denied wrongdoing, is being investigated by prosecutors in Braunschweig, near where Volkswagen is headquartered, to see whether the company violated disclosure rules.

U.S. regulators exposed VW’s cheating on Sept. 18, 2015.

Responding to the magazine report, Volkswagen reiterated on Saturday that the management board had not violated its disclosure duties, and had not informed investors earlier because they had failed to grasp the scope of the potential fines and penalties.

Citing documents unsealed by the Braunschweig prosecutor's office, Der Spiegel said Diess was present at a meeting on July 27, 2015, when senior engineers and executives discussed how to deal with U.S. regulators, who were threatening to ban VW cars because of excessive pollution levels.

Diess, who was VW's brand chief at the time, became CEO of parent company Volkswagen AG in April this year. Volkswagen also owns the Scania, Skoda, Audi, Porsche, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Ducati brands.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had found unusually high pollution levels in VW's vehicles and was threatening to withhold road certification for new cars until VW explained why pollution levels were too high.

Diess, who had defected from BMW to become head of the VW brand on July 1, 2015, joined the July 27 meeting with Volkswagen's then-CEO Martin Winterkorn to discuss how to convince regulators that VW's cars could be sold, a VW defense document filed with a court in Braunschweig in February, shows.

Volkswagen on Saturday said both Winterkorn and Diess declined to comment given the ongoing proceedings.

Following this meeting, Winterkorn asked Diess whether BMW too had installed “defeat devices” in its cars, Der Spiegel said.

In the United States, legal engine management software is described as an "auxiliary emissions device" while the term “defeat device” is used to describe only illegal software.

Diess is said to have answered that BMW had not made use of such software, Der Spiegel said. 

Credible witnesses?

Volkswagen said on Saturday: "The contents of the discussion, where Martin Winterkorn and Herbert Diess were present, cannot be fully reconstructed, because the recollections of the people who were present partially deviate." [VW took steps to ensure that]

Volkswagen further said it was the task of authorities and courts to evaluate the conflicting statements and to assess whether individual witnesses were credible. 

Diess and Winterkorn left the July 27 meeting taking a presentation with them, Der Spiegel further said.

A VW employee intervened and cautioned the managers that it would be better if they were not in possession of the presentation, Der Spiegel said.

Volkswagen said on Saturday the purpose of the July 27 meeting was not to discuss whether Volkswagen had broken U.S. law, but how to resolve the issue of whether new models would be given regulatory clearance.

Volkswagen argued that it had struggled to understand whether its software was in fact illegal, the defense document filed with the Braunschweig court shows.

On July 31, 2015 Volkswagen hired a law firm to help the company understand its regulatory troubles, and lawyers were unsure whether the software would be deemed an illegal “defeat device” in the United States, VW said in the court filing.

The court filing further said that Hans Dieter Poetsch, Volkswagen's finance chief at the time, on Sept. 14, 2015, believed the potential financial risk from regulatory penalties tied to emissions would be around 150 million euros ($172 million).

Hans Dieter Poetsch is now Volkswagen's chairman.

VW response

Volkswagen on Saturday reiterated that it had not violated disclosure rules and had informed investors in a timely manner about the financial scope of the scandal when it published an "ad hoc" disclosure notice on Sept. 22, 2015.

Volkswagen said that although it had admitted to using defeat devices to regulators on Sept. 3, 2015, it had assumed that penalties would not exceed 200 million euros, based on the size of fines imposed against rival carmakers who had committed similar regulatory breaches.

Because the company had already accrued sufficient provisions for vehicle recalls, there was no need to inform investors that profits could take a further hit before September 2015, Volkswagen's court filing said.

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Cadillac puts diesels on hold

Jens Meiners, Automotive News  /  September 15, 2018

SEATTLE — Cadillac has put diesel engine development on the back burner, citing the industry's rapid shift to electric vehicles.

Cadillac President Steve Carlisle, speaking last week at the XT4 compact crossover launch here, said the brand is re-evaluating diesel technology.

"We have been working on diesel, but the markets may be changing more quickly than we anticipated," he said. "Going forward, we will focus on electrification."

Cadillac had been working on four- and six-cylinder diesel engines for several years as part of its push into Europe, and had planned to offer diesel-powered models in the U.S. as well.

The XT4 was to have been offered with a diesel by 2020 or before, and Cadillac had expected to launch diesel engines in more models.

This may still happen, but for now, Carlisle confirmed the program is on hold.

In 2015, the Volkswagen diesel scandal caught Cadillac flat-footed, but executives felt it had progressed too far to kill the program. It hit another snag last year when General Motors sold Opel, a development partner for the engines. But despite delays, the program continued.

Now the strategy is under intense scrutiny. Still, Carlisle maintained that diesel engines will play a role in the auto business, especially in trucks, for a long time.

The future of the diesel in the U.S. is uncertain. Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz have pulled their offerings, but BMW continues to sell diesels. Diesel models have been launched by Jaguar Land Rover, and Kia and Mazda have announced diesels. GM sells the Chevrolet Cruze and Equinox, as well as the GMC Terrain, with diesel engines.

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Renault chief says governments have ‘condemned’ diesel

Financial Times  /  October 1, 2018

Changing government policies over diesel have “condemned” the fuel by leaving car buyers afraid of feeling “trapped” with vehicles they cannot sell, the chief executive of Renault has warned.

Carlos Ghosn, who heads the global alliance of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors, said on Monday that consumers buy cars based on price, running cost and resale value and “do not care” what engine their vehicles have.

“They use common sense. Governments decide to support diesel, then the consumer goes in that direction,” he told an audience in Paris on the eve of the Paris Motor Show.

“When governments give signals that it’s not good, they are going to stop incentives, stop using diesel cars in cities, consumers are saying ‘why should I buy diesel car to find myself trapped three to four years down the road with something that is a big investment’.”

He added: “Diesel is condemned because policymakers have condemned diesel. That is it.”

Governments across Europe had incentivised diesel technology as a way of lowering CO2 emissions, because the fuel is about 20 per cent more efficient than petrol. But many have begun phasing out incentives, or proposed banning the fuel type outright, following concerns over inner-city air quality, an issue linked to nitrogen oxide (NOx) fumes from older diesel cars.

Concerns over the extent of diesel pollution were also raised by the 2015 Volkswagen scandal, when the carmaker admitted to selling 11m cars worldwide that emitted far higher levels of NOx on the road than in laboratory tests.

Paris wants to ban all diesel cars from the centre of the city as soon as 2024, while several cities in Germany have begun banning older diesel cars in their most polluted streets.

The public’s appetite for the fuel has also collapsed, with diesel’s market share falling from more than 50 per cent to about a third of sales.

Carmakers are planning to phase out diesel engines, with Nissan, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler all killing off diesel from passenger cars in the coming years.

Renault will halve the number of diesel cars it offers, Mr Ghosn said.

“We have to follow the technology but at the same time listen to political trends . . . because those trends will define which technologies will win,” he said.

In a barb at the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, he used her plans to ban diesel cars from the French capital as an example of the kind of policies condemning diesel and influencing consumer choices.

Mr Ghosn’s comments come in the week that the European Parliament votes on tough new rules that will force the car industry to cut CO2 emissions by 2030.

While the industry wants a 20 per cent by the end of the next decade, some countries are pushing for a 30 per cent reduction, which would be much more difficult to achieve.

Carmakers already have to reduce CO2 emissions by 2020 or face significant fines, a goal that is spurring the launch of electric cars across Europe over the next two years.

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Chrysler's $810 Million Charge Signals Progress in Diesel Talks

Ryan Beene & Gabrielle Coppola, Bloomberg  /  October 30, 2018

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said Tuesday it will set aside 713 million euros ($810 million) to cover costs stemming from U.S. allegations it sold diesel vehicles that violated clean-air rules, in a sign the company sees a settlement costing less than analysts expected.

In a call with analysts, Fiat Chrysler Chief Financial Officer Richard Palmer said the provision would cover potential fines, remedies and settlements of lawsuits related to the alleged diesel violations. Analysts had expected a charge of more than 1 billion euros.

“This does not represent the settlement outcome or any admission on our part,” CEO Mike Manley said on the call. “Given the progress of discussions on these matters, we thought it was appropriate under our accounting rules to record this charge at this time.”

The disclosure comes as talks to resolve lawsuits tied to the allegations are entering a more advanced stage, according to Kenneth Feinberg, the court-appointed settlement master steering talks between the company, state and federal officials and drivers.

“The settlement negotiations are going forward, they are intensifying during the month of November,” Feinberg said. “Chrysler is negotiating in good faith with all the various parties that have an interest in this,” including federal and state officials, and drivers who’ve sued the company over the diesel issues.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board in January 2017 alleged that the automaker equipped diesel-powered pickups and SUVs with emissions software that violated clean-air laws.

The Justice Department then sued the automaker in May 2017, alleging that 2014 to 2016 model year Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs and Ram 1500 pickups had [3.0L V6 EcoDiesel] diesel engines rigged with illegal software to mask true pollution levels in lab tests while exceeding legal limits in real-world driving.

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Judge orders new talks in FCA, U.S. case over diesel emissions

David Shepardson, Reuters  /  November 28, 2018

WASHINGTON -- A federal judge in San Francisco on Wednesday ordered the Justice Department and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV to hold new talks with a court-appointed settlement master to try to settle the government's civil suit over the Italian-American automaker's diesel vehicle emissions.

The Justice Department is seeking "substantial" civil fines from Fiat Chrysler in a suit filed in May 2017 accusing the company of illegally using software that led to excess emissions in 104,000 U.S. diesel vehicles sold since 2014.

A person briefed on the matter said the government and Fiat Chrysler have reached agreement on almost all aspects of a settlement after months of lengthy talks but remain "hundreds of millions of dollars" apart on how big the fines will be.

In a written order, Judge Edward Chen directed both sides to "fully cooperate and communicate" with settlement master Ken Feinberg "in light of the delay in resolving the United States’ case." Feinberg was ordered "to engage directly with the parties and employ his best effort in facilitating settlement negotiations, including terms of any monetary relief."

Feinberg has scheduled a new round of talks with all sides for Dec. 3 in Washington, the person briefed on the matter said.

Feinberg declined to comment, saying Chen's order speaks for itself. Fiat Chrysler had no immediate comment.

U.S. and California regulators stepped up scrutiny of diesel vehicles after Volkswagen AG admitted in 2015 to illegally installing software in U.S. vehicles for years to evade emissions standards.

VW has agreed to pay more than $25 billion in the United States for claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers.

Regulators have said Fiat Chrysler diesel vehicles had undisclosed emissions controls that allowed vehicles to emit excess pollution during normal driving.

The company has denied any wrongdoing and said there was never an attempt to create software to cheat emissions rules. Last month, the company set aside 713 million euros ($810 million) to cover potential costs related to the case.

Reuters reported in February that a settlement offer sent to Fiat Chrysler lawyers by the Justice Department on Jan. 27 would require the company to offset excess pollution and take steps to prevent future excess emissions. The letter included language that a settlement must include very substantial civil penalties.

The Justice Department has a separate ongoing criminal investigation into the excess emissions.

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FCA to pay about $800 million to settle diesel emissions suits

David Shepardson, Reuters  /  September 9, 2019

WASHINGTON -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV has agreed to a settlement worth about $800 million to resolve claims from the U.S. Justice Department and state of California that it used illegal software that produced false results on diesel-emissions tests, but still faces an ongoing criminal probe.

The hefty penalty is the latest fallout from the U.S. government's stepped-up enforcement of vehicle emissions rules after Volkswagen AG admitted in September 2015 to intentionally evading emissions rules.

The Fiat Chrysler settlement includes $311 million in total civil penalties to U.S. and California regulators, up to $280 million to resolve claims from diesel owners, and extended warranties worth $105 million. It covers 104,000 Fiat Chrysler 2014-16 Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee diesels, the Justice Department said.

Regulators said Fiat Chrysler used "defeat devices" to cheat emissions tests in real-world driving.

For more details about the settlements from the EPA, click here.

FCA, in a statement, emphasized the settlements "do not change the company’s position that it did not engage in any deliberate scheme to install defeat devices to cheat emissions tests. Further, the consent decree and settlement agreements contain no finding or admission with regard to any alleged violations of vehicle emissions rules."

The company already set aside about $800 million for the settlement. 

Customers will each receive about $2,800 in compensation from the settlement, FCA said.

“We acknowledge that this has created uncertainty for our customers, and we believe this resolution will maintain their trust in us,” Mark Chernoby, FCA's head of North American safety and regulatory compliance, said in the statement.

“We have implemented rigorous new validation procedures and updated our training programs to ensure continued compliance with the increasingly complex regulatory environment,” he added. “Such measures are consistent with our mission to deliver advanced technologies that deliver value to our customers and that enhance the environmental performance of our products.”

'Serious problem'

"You wouldn't pay $311 million total dollars to the federal government in civil penalties if there were not a serious problem," U.S. assistant attorney general Jeff Clark told a news conference.

The settlement also includes $72.5 million for state civil penalties, and $33.5 million in payments to California to offset excess emissions and consumer claims.

German auto supplier Robert Bosch GmbH, which provided the emissions control software for the vehicles, also agreed to pay $27.5 million to resolve claims from diesel owners. Owners will receive an average of $2,800 to obtain software updates as part of the emissions recall, Fiat Chrysler said.

Elizabeth Cabraser, a lawyer for the owners, said the "substantial cash compensation" will ensure that consumers get the recall fix.

Bosch, which also provided diesel emissions software to Volkswagen, also agreed to pay $103.5 million to settle claims with 47 U.S. states that said the supplier "enabled" the cheating and should have known its customers would use the software improperly, the New York Attorney General's Office said.

Bosch said in a statement it did not accept liability or admit to the factual allegations, but that the settlement reflects "Bosch’s desire to move forward and to spare the company the very substantial costs and the burden on the company’s resources that would be required to litigate these issues."

The Justice Department said the settlement does not resolve an ongoing criminal investigation into Fiat Chrysler's conduct, but officials declined to discuss the status. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is also investigating.

'Don't cheat'

U.S. regulators are also investigating Daimler AG for alleged excess emissions in Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles, but the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency declined to comment on the status of the probe -- and would not say if any other automakers are under scrutiny.

Daimler declined to comment Thursday but has acknowledged it faces investigations in Germany and the United States. In October, Daimler said operating profit would fall by more than 10 percent, blaming "government proceedings and measures in various regions" in referencing diesel emissions issues.

U.S. regulators said the industry was getting a tough message.

"Fiat Chrysler deceived consumers and the federal government by installing defeat devices on these vehicles that undermined important clean air protections," said Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the EPA. "Today’s settlement sends a clear and strong signal to manufacturers and consumers alike -- the Trump administration will vigorously enforce the nation’s laws designed to protect the environment and public health."

Wheeler said the settlement message is simple to automakers: "Don't cheat."

The case dragged on after the Justice Department filed suit in May 2017 and the sides remained far part. At one point, the Justice Department sought $1.4 billion in civil penalties from Fiat Chrysler -- or about a $1 billion more than the company ultimately paid, two people briefed on the matter said.

The Justice Department said Fiat Chrysler must work with one or more vendors of aftermarket catalytic converters to improve the efficiency of 200,000 converters that will be sold in the 47 U.S. states that do not already require the use of the California-mandated high-efficiency gasoline vehicle catalysts. That is estimated at $50 million to $70 million, officials said.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement, "Fiat Chrysler tried to evade these standards by installing software to cheat emissions testing. The company not only violated the law and our trust, but did so at the expense of our environment."

U.S. Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio said at a news conference that automakers were on notice: "If you cheat our emissions tests you are going to get caught."

Fiat Chrysler has agreed to an enhanced whistleblower program and the company must implement corporate governance, organization and technical process reforms to minimize the likelihood of future Clean Air Act violations and must hire a compliance auditor to oversee and assess the reforms.

With the Fiat Chrysler settlement, the U.S. Justice Department's total civil fines for both Fiat Chrysler and Volkswagen are now valued at around $2,500 per vehicle.

In total, Volkswagen agreed to pay more than $25 billion in the United States for claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers, including spending as much as $15 billion to buy back about 500,000 polluting U.S. vehicles. The company pleaded guilty to three felony counts to resolve the criminal probe.

The settlement will be open for public comment for 30 days before a federal judge decides whether to approve the agreements. 

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Fiat Chrysler, Bosch agree to pay $66 million in diesel legal fees

David Shepardson, Reuters  /  February 6, 2019

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Robert Bosch have agreed to pay lawyers representing owners of U.S. diesel vehicles $66 million in fees and costs.

In a court filing late on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, lawyer Elizabeth Cabraser said after negotiations overseen by court-appointed settlement master Ken Feinberg, the companies agreed not to oppose an award of $59 million in attorneys’ fees and $7 million in costs.

The lawyers had originally sought up to $106.5 million in fees and costs.

Under a settlement announced last month, Fiat Chrysler and Bosch, which provided emissions control software for the Fiat Chrysler vehicles, will give 104,000 diesel owners up to $307.5 million or about $2,800 per vehicle for diesel software updates.

The legal fees are on top of those costs.

Fiat Chrysler is paying up to $280 million, or 90 percent of the settlement costs, and Bosch is paying $27.5 million, or 10 percent.

The companies are expected to divide the attorney costs under the same formula, meaning Fiat Chrysler will pay $60 million and Bosch $6 million.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen must still approve the legal fees. He has set a May 3 hearing on a motion to grant final approval.

The Italian-American automaker on Jan. 10 announced it settled with the U.S. Justice Department, California and diesel owners over civil claims that it used illegal software that produced false results on diesel-emissions tests.

Fiat Chrysler previously estimated the value of the settlements at about $800 million.

Fiat Chrysler is also paying $311 million in total civil penalties and issuing extended warranties worth $105 million, among other costs.

The settlement covers 104,000 Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee diesels from the model years 2014 to 2016.

In addition, Fiat Chrysler will pay $72.5 million for state civil penalties and $33.5 million to California to offset excess emissions and consumer claims.

The hefty penalty was the latest fallout from the U.S. government’s stepped-up enforcement of vehicle emissions rules after Volkswagen AG admitted in September 2015 to intentionally evading emissions rules.

The Justice Department has a pending criminal investigation against Fiat Chrysler.

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VW Passat gets cleaner diesel, partial autonomy

Automotive News Europe  /  February 11, 2019

HAMBURG-- Volkswagen has given the European version of its Passat a face-lift that adds a cleaner diesel engine, more connectivity features, a long-range plug-in hybrid and partially automated driving at fast cruising speeds.

VW says a newly developed 2.0-liter diesel engine is so clean that it can already pass a stringent on-road emissions test that will become mandatory in European markets in two years.

VW is updating the Passat to help the car stay No. 1 in Europe's midsize segment, which is shrinking as customers migrate to SUVs and crossovers.

VW hopes to Passat's clean-diesel technology will retain customers worried about driving bans that politicians and regulators are proposing to cut pollution in congested European cities.

VW says the Passat's 148- hp, 2.0-liter diesel is the first VW engine to be equipped with two separate selective catalytic reduction converters to reduce NOx emissions, with one located next to the warm engine block to enhance effectivity.

The engine can pass the Euro 6d on-road emissions test that will become mandatory in 2021, VW said. The test will cap on-road NOx emissions at 80 milligrams per km. The EU has allowed for an extra 40 mg/km margin of error because portable measuring systems lack precision.

“We don’t want to rely on this, so the engine is designed such that the car will be able to emit fewer than 80 mg/km,” said David Schneider, an VW engineer working on the diesel engine, a press event in Hamburg.

New European diesels will have to meet a laxer limit of 168 mg/km starting this September as part of the upcoming Euro 6d TEMP emissions limits.

In updating the Passat, VW also has an eye on inhouse competition from the Skoda Superb, which is now Europe's second best-selling mass-market midsize car after the Passat, ahead of the Passat's long-time rivals such as the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and Ford Mondeo.

The 2.0-liter diesel is more fuel efficient and cuts CO2 emissions by 10 g/km, which VW said means the Passat should continue to ensure a total cost of ownership that beats that of the Superb despite the latter’s lower purchase price. VW estimates its Passat's total cost of ownership is the lowest in its class at 17.3 cents per km.

In addition to the newly developed 2.0-liter TDI Evo, VW will offer the Passat in Europe with two higher powered 2.0-liter diesels and a 1.6-liter diesel, along with two 2.0-liter gasoline engines or a 1.5-liter gasoline unit, and a longer-range GTE plug-in hybrid with a 1.4-liter gasoline engine and electric motor. By using battery cells that contain more energy, engineers were able to expand its electric range to 55 km (43 miles), measured under Europe's new WLTP testing regime, which is 20 km more than the previous model.

Tech upgrades

The facelifted Passat will be the first VW to offer IQ.DRIVE system, which is capable of partially automated driving at cruising speeds up to 210 kph (130 mph).

Its predictive driving features allows the car to automatically adjust its velocity to match speed limits, towns, bends and roundabouts. Its emergency assist can bring the car to a controlled stop on a hard shoulder.

The Passat will also be the first VW model to offer the all-new third-generation infotainment module known as MIB, including a new Digital Cockpit, an improved version over the previous Active Info Display.

The car will be always online thanks to a new SIM card that comes with free data for features such as in-vehicle maps and location data. Customers will be able to use their Volkswagen ID to access certain connected car services as well as be able to access Apple Carplay or Android Auto by pairing their smartphones wirelessly now.

The Passat will debut at the Geneva auto show on March 5. Pre-sales will start in May and the market launch will take place in September.

VW has also updated the U.S. version of the Passat but while the European version uses VW Group's MQB platform, the U.S. model remains on the older PQ46 platform.

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Ford might want to make the partnership with VW a bit deeper... This would make a great next generation Mondeo/Fusion.

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VW, Winterkorn sued by SEC for 'fraud' over diesel emissions

Reuters  /  March 15, 2019

WASHINGTON -- The Securities and Exchange Commission sued Volkswagen Group and its former CEO Martin Winterkorn over the automaker's diesel-emissions scandal, accusing the company of perpetrating a "massive fraud" on U.S. investors.

The SEC said in its civil complaint filed in San Francisco on Thursday that from April 2014 to May 2015, VW issued more than $13 billion in bonds and asset-backed securities in U.S. markets at a time when senior executives knew that more than 500,000 U.S. diesel vehicles grossly exceeded legal vehicle emissions limits.

VW "reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in benefit by issuing the securities at more attractive rates for the company," the SEC said, adding VW "repeatedly lied to and misled U.S. investors, consumers, and regulators as part of an illegal scheme to sell its purportedly 'clean diesel' cars and billions of dollars of corporate bonds and other securities in the United States."

The suit seeks to bar Winterkorn from serving as an officer or director of a public U.S. company and recover "ill-gotten gains" along with civil penalties and interest.

Winterkorn, who resigned days after the scandal became public in September 2015, was charged by U.S. prosecutors in 2018 and accused of conspiring to cover up the automaker's diesel-emissions cheating.

He remains in Germany.

VW said in a statement the SEC complaint "is legally and factually flawed, and the company will contest it vigorously. The SEC has brought an unprecedented complaint over securities sold only to sophisticated investors who were not harmed and received all payments of interest and principal in full and on time."

The automaker added that the SEC "does not charge that any person involved in the bond issuance knew that Volkswagen diesel vehicles did not comply with U.S. emissions rules when these securities were sold" but repeats claims about Winterkorn "who played no part in the sales."

A lawyer for Winterkorn could not immediately be reached early on Friday.

VW has agreed to pay more than $25 billion in the U.S. in connection with the three-and-a-half-year-old scandal, paying claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers, and has offered to buy back about 500,000 polluting U.S. vehicles. That figure included $4.3 billion in U.S. criminal and civil fines.

But the SEC said VW "has never repaid the hundreds of millions of dollars in benefit it fraudulently obtained."

VW admitted in September 2015 to secretly installing software in 500,000 U.S. vehicles to cheat government exhaust emissions tests and pleaded guilty in 2017 to felony charges. In total, 13 people have been charged in the U.S., including Winterkorn and four Audi managers.

The SEC action also names VW arm VW Credit and Volkswagen Group of America Finance, the entity used to sell the securities.

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