How Volkswagen's emissions crisis unfolded

Shares of the German automaker were down nearly 4% on Tuesday as analysts speculated a new lawsuit filed by the US Justice Department could result in tens of billions of dollars in damages.

Friday, January 8
Volkswagen is at odds with state attorneys general who are investigating the company’s emissions scandal, refusing to hand over emails or other communications from its executives, The New York Times reported. Earlier in the week, the Justice Department said the automaker had "obstructed" regulators.

Tuesday, January 5
Volkswagen’s shares were down nearly 4% on Tuesday after the US Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit against the company a day earlier that could cost the automaker tens of billions of dollars. Some investors speculated it could result in penalties in excess of the expected $18 billion.

"This could lead to an upper level of $80 billion," analysts from ING told The Wall Street Journal, adding, "The likelihood of the maximum fine being levied across each of the violations is unlikely.

Monday, January 4
The US Justice Department filed a federal lawsuit against Volkswagen, as well as subsidiaries Audi and Porsche, seeking billions of dollars in damages due to cars equipped with "defeat devices" releasing excess pollutants.

Friday, November 20
Volkswagen said it will trim spending on new initiatives in 2016, including updating its Phaeton luxury model and building a plant in Mexico, due to its emissions scandal.

US investigators also confirmed they are looking into German auto supplier Robert Bosch, the largest company of its kind in the world, to determine whether it had knowledge of Volkswagen’s attempts to evade emissions tests.

Thursday, November 19
Volkswagen Americas CEO Michael Horn apologized to customers and dealers on Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show, saying the company will soon have a fix for cars sold with software designed to evade emissions testing.

Tuesday, November 10
Volkswagen’s head of corporate communications quit on Monday, making him the latest high-profile executive to leave the company amid its emissions scandal. Andreas Lampersbach’s last day at the company will be Sunday. Eric Felber will succeed him on an acting basis, following the departure of its CEO and top designer Walter Maria de Silva.  

Volkswagen also took action to make up with angry US customers on Monday by offering owners of certain diesel models, those caught with technology to avoid emission testing regulations, a chance to apply for a $500 prepaid Visa card and a dealership card of the same amount. Two US senators said in a letter that the offer was "insultingly inadequate."

Monday, November 2
The US Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that "defeat devices," designed to evade emissions testing, were also installed in some Porsche models, adding 10,000 cars to the list of affected automobiles. An unknown number of 2016 models also included the technology.

Wednesday, October 28
In Volkswagen Group's first earnings statement since its crisis broke, the firm said it made a post-tax loss of €1.7bn (£1.21bn, $1.85bn) in Q3 as a result of the €6.7bn set aside to deal with the cost of the crisis – a slightly higher figure than previously stated. It also promised to "do everything in our power to win back the trust we have lost".

Monday, October 26
Volkswagen UK declined to comment on a report in The Times said the firm had funded a research organisation that has published papers disputing that diesel car fumes cause ill health, and was led by a man who simulataneously worked for VW.

Thursday, October 22
Volkswagen is investigating whether software designed to mislead emissions tests was installed on even more automobiles than the 11 million already cited, which would extend both the financial and reputational damage to the automaker.

Thursday, October 15
Germany’s auto-industry regulator ordered Volkswagen on Thursday to recall 2.4 million cars with diesel engines that contain software designed to dupe emissions tests. It is the first government-required recall resulting from the crisis. Volkswagen had suggested customers could have their cars fixed on a voluntary basis.

Reuters reported on Thursday morning that the automaker could withstand a financial fallout of about $80 billion dollars resulting from the crisis, as long as it keeps its operations stable.

Tuesday, October 13
VW released a statement announcing a "reorientation of the diesel strategy with the most advanced technologies" in Volkswagen-branded cars. Dr Herbert Diess, CEO for Volkswagen passenger cars, said: "The Volkswagen brand is repositioning itself for the future."

Monday, October 12
Volkswagen's UK MD Paul Willis and other auto industry figures appeared before the Transport Select Committee in the Houses of Parliament – Willis apologised "sincerely and unreservedly" for the crisis, but warned that it might struggle to meet its target of recalling all affected UK vehicles by the end of next year. Video is available, and a transcript should be posted on by the end of the week.

Wednesday, October 7
Volkswagen’s supervisory board held crisis talks on Wednesday morning at the carmaker’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany. The company is up against deadlines from both US and German regulators to spell out its next steps to tackle the crisis.  

Tuesday, October 6
Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller told employees on Tuesday to get ready for large cutbacks as the automaker responds to its diesel emissions scandal.

"This will not be painless," he told staffers, according to Reuters.

Monday, October 5
Volkswagen began installing software in its diesel cars designed to help them flummox emissions testers after the company found the diesel engines could not meet emissions standards, according to The New York Times.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that the company’s investigation of the scandal has centered on two senior engineers.

Friday, October 2
Volkswagen Group of America president and CEO Michael Horn will testify in front of Congress next week. The automaker’s highest-ranking US executive will meet with the House Energy and Commerce Committee next Thursday.

Thursday, October 1
VW has replaced its comms chief, with Hans-Gerd Bode making the move from Porsche, following in the footsteps of new CEO Müller.

Wendesday, September 30
The firm has taken on a trio of comms firms to assist its global reaction to the crisis.

It has also pledged to contact all affected customers directly, and has already set up a US website for owners of models involved - a move welcomed by the UK minister in charge of transport.

Tuesday, September 29
Volkswagen said it will refit as many as 11 million vehicles to replace software on diesel cars designed to evade emissions regulations. The move could cost the company more than $6.5 billion, according to analysts.

The carmaker has lost about 40% of its market value since the scandal came to light.

Monday, September 28
German prosecutors launched an investigation into former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn on Monday, according to numerous reports.

The company also suspended three of its top engineers, the executives leading research and development for its flagship Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche brands, on Monday morning.

Friday, September 25
Volkswagen picked Matthias Muller as its CEO, following widespread speculation that the Porsche boss would be the man to take the job.

Meanwhile, its Audi of America unit is reviewing its communications AOR account. The incumbent on the business is PMK-BNC.

Finally, the firm issued a short statement detailing how it was "working at full speed" to restore public trust in the brand.

Thursday, September 24
Volkswagen has named Matthias Muller, currently the chief executive of its Porsche unit, as its next CEO, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday morning, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Outgoing Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn could leave the company with a pension of about $32 million, plus severance pay.

Volkswagen also sent letters in April to California customers with diesel-powered vehicles, warning them about an "emissions service action" affecting their cars, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, emissions "self-policing" by carmakers on two continents has been criticized.

Wednesday, September 23

Winterkorn said Wednesday that he is stepping down amid the company’s crisis over avoiding US emissions regulations.

"I am clearing the way for a fresh start with my resignation," he said in a statement, as quoted by Bloomberg News.

The company did not immediately name a successor.

Earlier, it was widely reported that Volkswagen's board was meeting in Wolfsburg, the company's hometown, to discuss the ongoing crisis. Most reports continued to speculate as to whether company Winterkorn will be able to hold on to his job.

The company's share price dropped to ‎€96 ($106.85) early on Wednesday morning, its lowest level since October 2010. It had been above ‎€250 as recently as April this year, and €169.65 a week ago. The company issued a profit warning last night saying it had set aside €6.5bn to "cover the necessary service measures and other efforts to win back the trust of our customers".

Tuesday, September 22
Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn apologized in a public video released on Wednesday, saying he was "endlessly sorry," and pledged a thorough investigation. However, he did not give any hint that he would resign, as had been reported by a German newspaper earlier in the day.

France also launched its own investigation into the matter, with the country’s environment minister saying she asked the US EPA for additional information.

A Volkswagen spokesman denied that the company has decided to fire Winterkorn and replace him with Matthias Mueller, the head of its Porsche unit, according to Reuters. German newspaper The Tagesspiegel had reported the leadership change on Tuesday morning.

However, a Volkswagen spokesman responded more ambiguously to Business Insider.

The automaker’s stock price dropped an additional 20% on Tuesday morning, after the company said 11 million diesel cars worldwide could be affected by the crisis. It said it has set aside $7.3 billion to cover the costs of fixing the cars to make them compliant with emissions regulations.

Monday, September 21
The highest ranking Volkswagen executive in North America, Volkswagen Group of America CEO Michael Horn, bluntly told the audience at a Monday launch event in New York that "we screwed up."

"We have to make things right, with the government, the public, our customers, our employees, and also very important, our dealers," he said, according to NBC News.

Sunday, September 20
Winterkorn apologized for Volkswagen’s reported use of technology in its diesel cars that enabled them to avoid compliance with US emissions regulations. He also said the company will investigate and cooperate with government inquiries.

"I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public," he said in a statement.  

However, "sorry" wasn’t good enough for some customers, with many telling the media they felt duped by the automaker’s promises of superior technology and environmental friendliness.

Saturday, September 19
Volkswagen of America instructed dealers to stop selling their remaining 2015 diesel cars with 2.0 liter engines, a day after federal and California regulators said the company deliberately avoided meeting environmental regulations with technology installed in its diesel cars.

Friday, September 18
The EPA accused Volkswagen of placing software on nearly a half-million US cars to avoid emissions regulations, calling the technology a "defeat device." It said the software was installed on 2009-14 Jetta, Beetle, and Golf models, the 2009-15 Audi A3, and the 2014-15 Volkswagen Passat.

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