For the better part of a year, VW executives have talked about the importance of "making things right" and repairing the damage. That effort is under way, and it has been costly.
VW will pay up to $10,000 to some 475,000 owners of 2.0-liter diesels under a deal announced by U.S. officials on June 28 to resolve consumer and deceptive advertising claims. Owners also have the option to sell their cars back to VW or wait for an emissions fix, an unprecedented consumer-redress plan that could cost VW up to $10 billion. Billions more will go toward environmental remediation and electric-vehicle initiatives.
If the agreement is approved at a Sept. 30 hearing, VW will have taken a big step toward closure. Dealers caught in the middle of VW's malfeasance are in line for relief, too -- a reported $1.2 billion in compensation.
But as the scandal enters year two, there are still big clouds swirling over the company. No settlement deal has been reached yet for owners of roughly 80,000 3.0-liter diesels, and regulators have yet to approve fixes for the 2.0-liter diesels.
And despite leaks, apologies, promises, shake-ups, investigations and news conferences galore, there isn't yet a comprehensive account, on the public record, of who was involved, what they knew, what they did and why.
By comparison, an independent investigation into General Motors' ignition switch fiasco in 2014 yielded a finished report within three months that not only documented the sequence of missteps by employees but took a piercing look at GM's flawed processes and dysfunctional corporate culture.
Volkswagen was quick to order an investigation, hiring the U.S. law firm Jones Day in late September 2015. But as the investigation dragged into a seventh month, the company reneged on a promise to release the interim results on the advice of its lawyers.
At the time, VW said Jones Day expected the investigation to be complete by the fourth quarter of 2016, but it hinted that it may not release details at all, deferring instead to a "detailed statement of facts" that usually accompanies the conclusion of Justice Department investigations.
Some of those facts are beginning to spill out, following the federal indictment of VW engineer James Liang. Liang, who worked at VW since 1983, pleaded guilty this month to federal conspiracy and fraud charges for his role in developing and covering up the diesel cheat software. Under a deal with prosecutors, he will cooperate with the government's ongoing criminal investigation into VW, paving the way for additional names and details to come out.
In the meantime, VW's insistence that the cheat was carried out by a small group of rogue engineers is showing some cracks. In filings made in a federal court in San Francisco, lawyers for VW owners charged that supplier Robert Bosch GmbH worked "hand in glove" with VW on the cheat software, alleging this month that both Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner and VW's then-CEO Martin Winterkorn had known about the defeat device since at least May 2014, despite earlier statements from both companies to the contrary. The Liang indictment mentions the role of a third company as well.
VW also is on the hook for Clean Air Act violations and potentially billions more in fines. Those charges could be incorporated into the Justice Department's criminal probe. Then there are additional lawsuits filed by a growing field of investors, U.S. states and municipalities that will keep VW in court and in headlines for many months more. And that's just in the U.S.
Into this maelstrom rides the Golf Alltrack, which will hit showrooms next month with some 40,000 units committed to the market next year, dealers say.