Bosch to pay out $327.5 mn over 'dieselgate' but admits no wrongdoing

Bosch made some elements of the "defeat devices" that Volkswagen installed in 11 million diesel engines to minimise emissions during regulatory testing (AFP Photo/THOMAS KIENZLE) (AFP/File)

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) - German car parts maker Bosch will pay out compensation to US buyers and dealers of Volkswagen-made diesel cars affected by the 'dieselgate' scandal, it said Wednesday, but admits no wrongdoing.

Under a settlement agreement hammered out with civil claimants, Bosch will "settle the most substantial part of the criminal law proceedings pending in connection with Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche diesel vehicles that were sold in the US" for $327.5 million (303 million euros), the firm said in a statement.

Bosch, the world's largest car parts supplier and a household appliance giant with 2016 revenues of 73.1 billion euros, is accused of helping Volkswagen hide the existence of sophisticated software included in diesel engines to minimise emissions during regulatory testing.

The so-called "defeat devices" were installed in 11 million diesel engines from VW and its subsidiaries around the globe before coming to light in September 2015.

The Stuttgart-based firm said that its compensation agreement "would settle the claims of consumers and dealers of used vehicles against Robert Bosch GmbH, its affiliates, employees, and directors" in the United States.

It covers customers who bought vehicles from Volkswagen and Audi with 2.0-litre diesel engines between 2009 and 2015, as well as 3.0-litre VW, Audi and Porsche cars produced between 2009 and 2016.

If it goes ahead, Bosch's $327.5-million deal would be dwarfed by the more than $23 billion so far agreed by Volkswagen in compensation and fines to customers, dealers and authorities in the United States.

The firm set aside 650 million euros in provisions in 2015 to cover any legal costs arising from the 'dieselgate' scandal, which became public in September that year.

To avoid a trial, VW admitted to conspiring to deceive its customers and US authorities and to obstructing justice by destroying documents.

On Wednesday, it announced a final tranche of compensation payments, buybacks and refits for US buyers of Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche vehicles fitted with 3.0-litre diesel motors.

- Moving on? -

By contrast, Bosch said it "neither acknowledges the facts as alleged by the plaintiffs nor does Bosch accept any liability."

It agreed to the payout because "we wish to devote our attention and our resources to the transition in mobility and in other areas of activity," chief executive Volkmar Denner said in the statement.

Presenting provisional results for 2016 last week, the family-owned firm said it was investing billions in transitioning to electric cars and connected objects from its traditional car components and domestic appliances business.

The Stuttgart-based firm admitted soon after the dieselgate scandal emerged to having supplied parts of the software used in the defeat devices, but has "neither admitted anything nor covered anything up," a spokesman told AFP.

With the proposed agreement affecting only civil law claims, Bosch added that it "will continue to defend its interests in all other civil and criminal law proceedings and to cooperate comprehensively with the investigating authorities in Germany and other countries."

Meanwhile, it remains under investigation in both Germany and the United States.

Bosch is running its own internal investigation "prioritising thoroughness over speed," the spokesman said.

The firm's proposed deal with VW buyers and dealers must still be approved by a US federal judge in California, with a hearing slated for February 14.

Bosch hopes to receive a green light by early May after plaintiffs have had time to examine its offer.