July 31, 2021

“At Volkswagen, an amicable agreement to turn the page on” Dieselgate “”

Ln September 23, 2015, his resignation was shattering, at the height of the “dieselgate” scandal, revealed six days earlier. Boss of Volkswagen (VW) for eight years, Martin Winterkorn paid a high price for the discovery of the faking of pollution control software on 11 million diesel vehicles, a case revealed in the middle of the Frankfurt Motor Show by the Protection Agency of the United States environment.

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Discreet, we hardly see him any more than in the stands of the Allianz Arena, the stadium of Bayern Munich. But, six years later, he will have to pay – in cash this time – 11 million euros in damages to his former company for “negligent breach of his obligations”, even if he has always denied having knowledge of these. frauds.

This is less than his average annual compensation over his entire mandate, which began in 2007. This record fine will not exempt him from a criminal trial, from mid-September, with four other executives, in a case which has already cost 32 billion euros to the Wolfsburg giant.

“Technology firm”

The supervisory board validated, Saturday, June 5, the main points of an amicable agreement which should make it possible to turn the page on an unprecedented scandal in German industry. It will be put to a shareholder vote in July. VW will therefore not obtain from its former bosses and their insurers the billion claimed for the cost of disastrous repercussions on the image of the brand, but rather 200 million to 300 million euros.

When the scandal broke, diesel was still the heyday of the powerful German automobile industry; the event only accelerated its inevitable decline, even if recent engines do not pollute more (but differently) than gasoline engines. Because the climate emergency did the rest, forcing “Das auto”, the manufacturer with twelve brands (VW, Audi, Porsche, Skoda, Seat…), to operate a real revolution to maintain its rank of world number one.

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Now, not a manufacturer who has not planned to switch to all-electric, in 2025 for the best prepared, in 2030-2035 for the others. The sector is undergoing a second revolution, as deep as the first mobile assembly line of the Ford T in 1913. The current boss, Herbert Diess, has only one obsession: to make the group a “Technology firm” which invests massively in software, the heart of the car of the future on which it will bet 75 billion euros within five years. Engineer Winterkorn, who prided himself on his perfect technical knowledge of engines, will ultimately play the last boss of the old world.