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Volkswagen may escape Dieselgate fines in Germany

It appears the German government is more concerned with finishing its criminal investigation and getting recalls underway.


Volkswagen may have been raked over the coals in the US, but the decision to potentially forego fines in Germany shows that home-field advantage isn't a bad thing to have.

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When Volkswagen started setting aside billions of euros to pay for its misdeeds surrounding its diesel vehicles, many folks were skeptical that it could ever save up enough to cover its costs. With a little help from the German government, though, it appears it may not be hit as hard as once imagined -- in Germany, at least.

While Volkswagen will shell out billions to customers and environmental remediation funds in the US, it appears it may not pay any fines at all in its home country, Bloomberg reports. Instead of trying to piledrive the company's coffers into the ground, German authorities seem more interested in finishing up the criminal investigation and ensuring that Volkswagen follows through with its recall plans.

The idea behind this is that recalls and investigations will actually help the consumer, whereas steep fines won't provide as direct a benefit. The automaker already said it won't run a similar buyback system in Germany as it did in the US, as costs would be too high. Europe's emissions regulations are also less strict, making potential fixes easier to come by.

"We now have a situation in which Volkswagen is required to return the cars to a legally compliant condition," German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt told Bloomberg and others Wednesday in Berlin. "That is what is appropriate to remedy the damage that's been done."

Not everyone agrees with this course of action, though. Nor should they -- some folks will feel left out in the cold after seeing the deal US customers received. That US deal will cost the Volkswagen some $15 billion as it offers buybacks and cash payouts for affected owners.

Volkswagen ended up in this mess after it admitted to willfully cheating diesel emissions regulations. Using specific software, its diesel cars could curtail emissions during testing, only to over-pollute once they were out on the road.

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