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Volkswagen scandals continue in U.S.

September 21st, 2016

The ongoing U.S. investigations of German car manufacturer Volkswagen lead to one of their engineers being convicted earlier this week. James Liang’s charges include conspiring to defraud the U.S., conspiring to commit wire fraud and conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act. The conspiracy began in November 2006, and the cheating was revealed in September of last year. West Virginia University researchers began questioning the inconsistency between road emission and test emission of certain VW models in 2014.

 

The engineer plead guilty in Detroit federal court to helping Volkswagen cheat on emissions tests by aiding in developing a device that helped recent models appear to burn cleaner emissions on tests. Liang is just one of many engineers that have been caught up in the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

 

Liang and colleagues were working on designing a new engine in 2006 and Liang claims they “soon realized that the engine could not meet both customer expectations as well as new, stricter U.S. emissions standards,” according the Wall Street Journal.

 

They began designing “defeat devices” to make sure the company would be allowed to continue selling cars in the United States. The software they developed recognized when the car was undergoing a test and automatically turned on the emissions controls.

 

Liang has been with Volkswagen since 1983 and agreed to cooperate with the rest of the investigation. He is looking at up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine at his sentencing in January. He will assist the government in the investigation and the prosecution of others within the company. The engineer claims he has remorse for what took place and is trying to get his sentence lessened. He still remains an employee of Volkswagen.

 

The New York Times reports Volkswagen also announced they will be resuming production of cars in Kenya after a four decade break. Volkswagen stopped producing cars in this region during the 1970s.

 

The car manufacturer has decided to resume and plans to sell more of its vehicles in the East African region of the world. Thomas Schafer, the Volkswagen South African chief executive, stated, “we believe that Kenya has got the potential to develop very big fully fledged automotive industry. The East African Community has got the potential, and today is the first step in this direction that we want to take with our passenger cars.” Volkswagen is currently the second biggest car manufacturer in sales in South Africa, behind Toyota, according to Fortune. The German car maker will begin assembling the Polo Vivo model in a plant in Thika by the end of the year after signing a deal with the Kenyan government.

 

Editor’s Note: Information from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Fortune was used in this report.