the case continues to move forward at two speeds between Europe and the United States

In 2015, the “Dieselgate” affair broke out. The American environmental agency accused Volkswagen (Audi, Porshe, Seat, Skoda…) of having installed fraudulent software on hundreds of thousands of vehicles to cheat pollution tests by temporarily limiting the emission of polluting gases. Result: the vehicles appeared to be up to 30 times less polluting than they were. This fraud lasted 6 years, and affected 11 million brand vehicles, 85% of which were sold in Europe.

Over the following years, other manufacturers were suspected of having had the same practices: Renault, Peugeot, Citroën and Fiat-Chrysler. With the consequences of multiple lawsuits, sometimes settled out of court with a fine. On June 3, it was the turn of the car manufacturer Fiat Chrysler USA (FCA US, subsidiary of the Stellantis group) to go (again) to the checkout. The group pleaded guilty in a trial in the United States and agreed to pay 300 million dollars. In detail, it is a criminal fine of 96 million dollars, and a reimbursement of 204 million euros, which corresponds to the estimate of the gains generated by this fraud. Stellantis had made $300 million in provisions in its accounts in 2021 in anticipation of the consequences of the litigation.

Fines paid in the United States

The US Department of Justice accused FCA of misleading authorities and consumers by making false or misleading statements about the emissions control systems of more than 100,000 Jeep and Ram brand vehicles, in addition to violating US standards.

The manufacturer had already agreed in early 2019 to pay up to $515 million to various US authorities in this case. He had also undertaken to recall the affected cars to bring them up to standard, but this agreement did not lift the criminal charges. Hence the recent lawsuit. “Today’s guilty plea demonstrates the department’s commitment…to hold accountable companies that seek to put profits above candor, good governance and measures to redress the situation“commented Kenneth Polite, assistant attorney general at the ministry, in a press release.

The sum paid by Fiat-Chrysler remains however incomparable with the note paid by Volkswagen, placed in the center of the eye of the storm of the scandal. In the United States, the German group has agreed to pay more than 22 billion dollars from 2017 to satisfy the authorities, customers and dealers, in particular by offering to repair or buy back the nearly 600,000 cars concerned, in addition to compensating the owners.

A longer legal procedure in Europe

But in Europe, where pollution standards are less strict than in the United States, Dieselgate drags on, while it is on the Old Continent that the vast majority of rigged cars have been sold. As a result, manufacturers are slow to compensate customers, playing on the differences in legislation. However, they do not go unpunished: Volkswagen still agreed to pay a fine of one billion euros in Germany (which took into account vehicles sold in France), while the boss of its subsidiary Audi was imprisoned. in Germany in 2018.

In France, Volkswagen, Renault, Peugeot, Citroën and FCA Italy were indicted in 2021 as part of an investigation into polluting emissions from diesel vehicles. If all of them had to pay legal costs and pay bail amounting to several million euros, they plead not guilty.

On the other side of the Channel, in England and Wales, Volkswagen agreed at the end of May to pay 193 million pounds (226 million euros) to compensate 91,000 British motorists who considered themselves injured by the engine scandal. rigged and initiated legal proceedings. An amicable agreement, which followed a court decision in favor of motorists.

Beyond the announced sum, distributed between the plaintiffs by their lawyers, the automobile group specifies contributing to the legal costs and other costs of the plaintiffs. In total, some 1.2 million Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda brand vehicles were affected in the United Kingdom by the cheating recognized by the German giant at the end of 2015 out of a total of eleven million diesel cars in the world. The German group had clarified that its decision did not amount to an acknowledgment of responsibility, causality or losses of the applicants.