It feels like we’ve been writing about Volkswagen’s emissions scandal, better known as ‘Dieselgate,’ for years. That’s because we have — almost half a decade, in fact. To round off the whole saga, the US’ Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published a “final report” that notes just how much the Volkswagen Group, which includes Audi and Porsche, paid out to hoodwinked car buyers in the US: $9.5 billion. A make-good scheme set up in 2016 gave drivers two choices — return your vehicle and receive some financial compensation, or have it modified to comply with emissions regulations. Unsurprisingly, 86 percent went with the cash option.
If you need a refresher (we don’t blame you if you do, it’s been a while), the Volkswagen group used “defeat devices” that knew when they were being tested and consumed more fuel to deliver better emissions scores. Afterwards, the vehicle would switch back — customers care about fuel economy, after all — and pump out far more nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere. As a result, Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned and many employees were suspended. The scandal encouraged legislators to investigate other automakers and uncover similar deceptions. It was also a factor in Volkswagen’s strategic shift toward the all-electric ID.x platform, which starts with the Golf-sized ID.3 later this year.