Numerous VW executives, engineers implicated in emissions cheating scandal, investigation reveals

by Charles Miller

Preliminary results of a Volkswagen investigation into causes of the recent “Dieselgate” recall has found as many as 10 executives and engineers were behind the decisions that led to the emissions cheating scandal. Investigators hired by Volkswagen have also found dozens of employees who knew about the diesel emissions cheating but failed to pass this information up the chain of command.

Volkswagen recalled about 11 million diesel-powered vehicles worldwide—including nearly 500,000 cars in the U.S.—after admitting that it had lied to consumers and regulators about the performance and emissions levels on some of its “TDI Clean Diesel” models. Volkswagen admitted that it had installed  “defeat device” software on these vehicles which made the vehicles appear to admit lower pollutants levels during emissions testing.

The company has announced that it will recall the diesel-powered vehicles in the U.S. that were implicated in the emissions cheating scandal, including certain Golf TDI, Passat TDI, Jetta TDI, Beetle TDI, and Audi A3 models. Recently Volkswagen also revealed that an additional 10,000 Porsche, VW, and Audi vehicles in the U.S. were also equipped with the computer software emissions defeat device.

At least three members of Volkswagen’s board of supervisors have stated that they only learned about the emissions cheating two weeks after company officials admitted the existence of the emissions cheating software to the EPA in September 2015. Officials have not revealed which VW executives were responsible for admitting the company’s role in the emissions scandal, nor whether former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn—who resigned days after the Dieselgate scandal was made public—was aware of the company’s fraudulent actions in connection with the scandal.

Regardless of the total number of executives and engineers who are eventually implicated in the Dieselgate scandal, former VW employees say that the company’s failure to stop the emissions cheating was caused by the corporate climate inside the German automaker. Volkswagen centralized decisions making at its headquarters in Wolfburg, Germany and discouraged open discussion of company problems, making employees fearful of speaking up.

Sources say that the investigation into the role of Volkswagen executives and engineers in the emissions scandal is likely to continue for several months. Legal experts predict that Volkswagen may be facing billions in fines from the EPA and other government agencies over the emissions cheating scandal, as well as billions more in legal liability from lawsuits filed by disgruntled VW, Audi, and Porsche owners. German officials are also investigating the company’s actions in connection with the emissions scandal to determine whether any criminal actions on the part of VW employees had occurred.

Lawsuits Filed Against Volkswagen Over Dieselgate Scandal

Volkswagen announced in September 2015 that it would recall about 11 million diesel-powered vehicles worldwide, including nearly 500,000 vehicles in the U.S. The company admitted that it had installed a “defeat device” on millions of Volkswagen and Audi “TDI Clean Diesel” models. This software device enabled Volkswagen’s diesel engines to evade emissions testing limits, enabling the vehicles to pass inspection even though they emitted up to 40 times more pollutants than allowed under federal law.

The vehicles included in the Volkswagen diesel recall include the 2009-2015 Audi A3 TDI, the 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, the 2016 Audi A7 Quattro, the 2016 Audi A8, the 2016 Audi A8L, the 2016 Audi Q5, the 2015 Porche Cayenne, the 2009-2015 Volkswagen Beetle TDI, the 2009-2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI, the 2009-2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, the 2012-2015 Volkswagen Passat TDI, and the 2014 Volkswagen Touareg. Further investigation into the Volkswagen scandal may reveal that additional VW or Audi models are also affected by the diesel engine emissions issue.

Numerous commercial fraud lawsuits and class action litigation claims have already been filed against Volkswagen by VW and Audi owners nationwide. Legal experts predict that the German automaker could face billions in legal liability and EPA fines as a result of its fraudulent claims regarding the performance and emissions of the recalled TDI vehicles. Consumers who purchased or leased one of the Volkswagen or Audi “clean diesel” vehicles involved in the emissions scandal may be eligible to file a lawsuit and receive compensation for their vehicle.

If you purchased or leased one of the VW, Audi, or Porsche diesel-powered vehicles involved in the “Dieselgate” recall, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson to learn more about whether you qualify to file a lawsuit. For a free legal consultation about your case, please contact us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few simple questions to get started.


Case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case. Results of other cases do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case.

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by Charles Miller

Charles Miller is a licensed attorney and a partner at Heygood, Orr & Pearson. Charles focuses his practice on areas of complex commercial litigation and personal injury litigation.