A few years ago when it first began emerging that some diesel Mercedes were possibly cheating emissions tests, a Daimler spokesman said, “All our vehicles comply with regulatory frameworks.” Today, Daimler announced that it would be paying billions to settle civil and regulatory proceedings over emissions cheating.
Daimler said that $1.5 billion would be spent on settlements with federal and state agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the California Air Resources Board, U.S. Department of Justice, the California Attorney General’s Office, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. A further $700 million would be spent to settle a class-action lawsuit against it, including attorneys’ fees.
The settlements aren’t exactly final yet, but this is also the sort of thing you don’t announce unless everyone’s already on board. From Daimler’s announcement:
The settlements are subject to the final approval of the relevant authorities and courts. The agreement in principle with the U.S. government authorities will be memorialized in binding consent decrees. In the coming weeks, the authorities will then lodge the consent decrees with a U.S. District Court for ultimate approval. The U.S. consumer class action settlement will be submitted to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey for approval.
And while $2.2 billion is a hefty chunk of change, it is only a fraction of the $35.4 billion that Volkswagen has paid out in the form of fines, various settlements, and other penalties, according to Reuters. The difference in the U.S., at least, can be partially explained by the approaches the two companies initially took to the investigations.
Volkswagen spent over a year misleading investigators, while Daimler cooperated from the get-go, according to The New York Times. There were also more cars involved, with about 600,000 VW diesels vs 250,000 Daimler diesels. Daimler had said earlier this year that it expected to take a financial hit because of the investigation.