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Volkswagen Continues To Deal With Fallout From Emissions Cheating Scandal


We're going to check in now on today's developments in the Volkswagen emissions scandal.


First, the VW board appears ready to name a new CEO.

MCEVERS: And lawsuits by car owners are starting to pile up.

SHAPIRO: And on top of all this, another German automaker is accused of cheating. NPR's John Ydstie has more.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: The fallout from the VW scandal appears to be spreading. Today, the German transport minister said VW also manipulated emission tests in Europe. And BMW is denying charges that the real-world performance of one of its models doesn't match the vehicle's emission test results. Meanwhile, VW's board is trying to manage the crisis. At a meeting tomorrow, the board will reportedly name Porsche CEO Mathias Muller to be VW's new CEO. And among the board's worries is a growing number of class-action lawsuits in the United States. Seattle attorney Steve Berman was among the first to file, partly because he purchased some of the cars in question.

STEVE BERMAN: I was shocked, and I was personally dismayed because I have three of these cars. I bought two for my kids, and I bought one for my bicycle-racing team because we wanted to have an environmentally friendly car.

YDSTIE: Berman's lawsuit puts the potential compensation to U.S. owners of the nearly 500,000 VW cars involved as high as $11 billion. More than two dozen class action lawsuits have already been filed. They'll likely be combined by the courts and assigned to just a few attorneys. Berman probably has a good chance since he was a lead attorney in both the GM ignition lawsuit and the Toyota unintentional acceleration case. He says the response to the VW case has outpaced both of those.

BERMAN: I've been doing this for 30 years. I've never had such an outpouring of people contact our law firm just dying to be a class representative because they're so angry about what happened because everyone bought these cars for one reason - because of the clean diesel promotion.

YDSTIE: Brian Mittelstaedt was one of them.

BRIAN MITTELSTAEDT: I opted for the Volkswagen clean diesel because of its fuel economy, its advertised environmental impact, and it had a little more cargo room.

YDSTIE: Mittelstaedt commutes between Rochester and Syracuse, N.Y. He says he loved driving his Jetta Sport TDI and was proud of its mileage numbers. But that's changed.

MITTELSTAEDT: Going from a proud owner to someone who's now ashamed to pull out of the driveway in it.

YDSTIE: Rebeccas Cadill, who drives a 2012 Golf TDI has another worry.

REBECCAS CADILL: I'm concerned I may not be able to even register my car next year because it won't pass the smog requirements.

YDSTIE: Cadill lives in Riverbank, Calif., near Modesto. She also worries an emissions software fix will create new problems.

CADILL: The gas mileage may change. It may not have as much power as it's supposed to have. All of the things that made it great are basically going to be taken away.

YDSTIE: That remains to be seen. But with its reputation tarnished, Cadill says she'll probably have trouble selling the car. John Ydstie, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

John Ydstie has covered the economy, Wall Street, and the Federal Reserve at NPR for nearly three decades. Over the years, NPR has also employed Ydstie's reporting skills to cover major stories like the aftermath of Sept. 11, Hurricane Katrina, the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. He was a lead reporter in NPR's coverage of the global financial crisis and the Great Recession, as well as the network's coverage of President Trump's economic policies. Ydstie has also been a guest host on the NPR news programs Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. Ydstie stepped back from full-time reporting in late 2018, but plans to continue to contribute to NPR through part-time assignments and work on special projects.
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