Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Volkswagen Diesel Emissions

Were Top Executives at Volkswagen Aware of Illegal Emissions-Cheating Software as Early as 2014?

A recent investigation by The New York Times discovered that top executives at Volkswagen Group may have had previous knowledge that their diesel vehicles contained emissions control-cheating software as early as 2014. Internal documents, emails, and memos obtained by the publication suggest that Martin Winterkorn, the former CEO of Volkswagen, may have been aware of this illegal conduct as well.

As reported by The Times, Bernd Gottweis, “a confidant of Mr. Winterkorn, wrote to him in May 2014 warning that regulators might accuse the carmaker of using a so-called defeat device – software that recognized when the car was being tested for emissions and activated pollution-control equipment. At other times, the cars produced up to 35 times the allowed amount of nitrogen oxide emissions, which are linked to lung ailments and premature deaths.”

Volkswagen did not publicly admit that 11 million of their diesel vehicles contained the illegal emissions-cheating software until last September, four months after the initial communication. If it is proven that the automaker knowingly misled officials by concealing facts for four months, then the penalties for the car manufacturer could significantly rise. The auto company “could face higher fines for violating United States environmental laws, as well as larger settlements with Volkswagen owners who have sued in the United States after the value of their cars fell,” according to The Times.

Lieff Cabraser Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi Emissions Fraud Attorneys

Lieff Cabraser represents Volkswagen (and VW-owned Porsche and Audi) owners in class action lawsuits filed in federal courts in numerous states over the 2015 VW emissions fraud scandal. At the heart of the complaints is the charge that for years, VW intentionally and systematically cheated its customers, lied to the government, and misled the public about the efficacy of its four-cylinder diesel engine vehicles sold under the Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi brands.

If you are a Volkswagen, Porsche, or Audi owner and are concerned about the drastic diminution in value of your vehicle, please click here to contact a consumer rights attorney at Lieff Cabraser about your case. We will review your claim for free, confidentially, and with no obligation on your part.