One winner is a 65-year-old, sweet-but-tough woman who, instead of retiring, will begin arguably the toughest job in the global auto industry. Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt starts as VW Group's first board member for integrity and legal affairs on Jan. 1. She currently holds that same position at Daimler, which agreed to release her from her contract a year early to help VW clean up its mess.
Hohmann-Dennhardt left her job as a judge in the German Federal Constitutional Court to join Daimler in 2011.
She arrived after the company was accused of bribery at its heavy-truck division. She is the first female management board member in Daimler's history, and she will achieve that same milestone at VW Group.
Another winner is Ferdinand Piech. The architect of the VW Group as we know it today didn't want Martin Winterkorn to succeed him as VW Group chairman. His wish was granted when VW passed over Winterkorn in favor of group finance chief Hans Dieter Poetsch, who is a longtime Piech ally.
Piech also did not want Winterkorn to remain VW Group CEO. The bid to get Winterkorn fired cost Piech his post on the supervisory board in April. But within six months Winterkorn was gone and another Piech ally, former Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller, had Winterkorn's old job. Reports surfaced in April that while Piech was still chairman he was working behind the scenes to make Mueller VW Group CEO.
But Piech also must fall into the loser category because the diesel scandal has wiped out over a third of VW's share value. That means the Piech-Porsche family's VW investment has declined by more than $11 billion since the scandal started.
Consumers and the environment are clear winners. Dieselgate should lead to quicker adoption of emissions test procedures that will reduce the pollution produced by new vehicles and hopefully finally end the wide disparity between test-bench performance and real-world driving.
The difference between the manufacturer type-approval data and real driving in Europe has widened to an average of 38 percent in 2014 from 8 percent in 2001, says a report by the International Council on Clean Transportation.
A final winner is VW itself. Europe's largest automaker will pay high fines and face a long fight to re-establish its credibility, but it has the financial resources and the technical capabilities to do both.