Volkswagen AG last week reached an agreement with more than 300 diesel car owners just days before what was expected to be a high-profile trial over the automaker’s excessive diesel emissions.
Reuters reported that Volkswagen reached a settlement Friday with David Doar, a North Carolina man, and roughly 300 other owners who joined his lawsuit. Days before, Virginia state court Judge Bruce White rejected requests from Volkswagen’s lawyers to delay the trial. The automaker’s lawyers argued that a Netflix documentary about the emissions scandal, reports about the automaker subjecting monkeys to diesel fumes, and “inflammatory” comments from an attorney who represented diesel VW owners would taint a trial jury.
MORE: Volkswagen faces new round of Dieselgate lawsuits in Europe
The trial would have been the first to pit Volkswagen against owners who did not take the automaker up on its $15.4 billion buyback after it admitted in September 2015 to systematically cheating diesel emissions testing in the U.S. Of the roughly 500,000 owners of affected diesel VW vehicles, about 2,000 did not accept the automaker’s buyback and additional compensation offers and instead chose to pursue additional compensation in court.
Doar’s attorney, Mike Melkerson, was interviewed in the Netflix documentary series “Dirty Money.” In the documentary, it was revealed that Volkswagen paid an Albuquerque, New Mexico laboratory to expose monkeys to diesel exhaust fumes in an effort to prove that gasoline emissions are more harmful. However, the VW Beetle used in the lab test was fitted with the same illegal “defeat device” as the cars the automaker was ordered to buy back.
Terms of the settlement have not been made public, but Volkswagen has spent more than $30 billion and ousted high-ranking executives in the Dieselgate scandal so far.
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The 2019 Audi A6 is evolutionary outside, majorly upgraded inside and under its hood. Tuesday, Audi took the wraps off of its all-new mid-size luxury sedan ahead of its formal debut at next week’s Geneva auto show.
With its 2019 A6, Audi ups its tech game inside and underneath. Outside, the A6 plays it safe with conservative styling that varies only slightly from the outgoing model. A sharper front fascia and flared haunches give it a hint more character than before, but the updates are subtle. The latest A6 is marginally larger than the outgoing model, which translates to a modest improvement in interior space.
MORE: Read our 2019 Audi A7 review
Needless to say, the 2019 A6 isn’t as evocative as its A7 sibling outside. And that’s just the way Audi positions the two models.
The A6’s interior mirrors the A7, at least as far as front-seat passengers are concerned. A trio of LCD screens relay information to the driver, at least on models fitted with the company’s MMI Navigation Plus infotainment system. Directly in front of the steering wheel, a 12.3-inch screen replaces conventional gauges and houses Audi’s virtual cockpit system that works in concert with a 10.1-inch screen at the top of the center stack on Navigation Plus-equipped A6s. Below, an 8.6-inch touchscreen handles climate and convenience controls as well as doubling as a touchpad for text inputs. Audi says that the arrangement is set up so that drivers can keep their wrists on the automatic transmission gear lever.
A Bang & Olufsen audio system will be on the options list.
Under hood, all versions of the A6—at least for the European market at launch—feature mild-hybrid technology that cuts out the engine at stoplights and while coasting and uses an electric motor for assistance under acceleration. Audi predicts improved fuel economy and performance for the European market, where a single gas engine and two turbodiesels will be on offer at launch. In Europe, the two larger engines—gas and diesel units displacing 3.0-liters—are paired to all-wheel drive.
The mild-hybrid system uses a belt alternator-starter that functions like a small electric motor paired to a lithium-ion battery. During coasting at speeds between about 34 and 100 mph, the A6’s mild-hybrid setup can cut out the gas engine entirely. Additionally, during braking, the mild-hybrid system can cut out the A6’s engine at speeds under 14 mph to save even more fuel.
Underneath, the A6 will offer four-wheel steering for the first time. The system is designed to make the mid-size luxury sedan nimble and agile on a curvy road while aiding stability on the highway. At lower speeds, the system turns the rear wheels in the opposing direction of the front wheels to reduce the vehicle’s turning circle to just 36.4 feet—about 3.6 feet shorter than before. At higher speeds, it works in exactly the opposite fashion to improve straight-line tracking. Additionally, Audi will offer four different suspension tunes—steel springs, a sport setup, adjustable dampers, and an adaptive air suspension with adjustable dampers.
Highly-optioned A6 sedans will also be capable of parking themseles in a garage or a parking spot while the driver is outside the vehicle using a smartphone app. The A6 can also be ordered with the Audi Connect Key system that discards a conventional key fob in favor of an Android app that can unlock, lock, and start the vehicle using Near Field Communication. Whether this feature will make it to the U.S. isn’t clear.
Given that the U.S. debut of the A6 isn’t expected until the New York auto show in late March, it’s not surprising that Audi has left out details for this market. In Germany, the new A6 will hit dealers in June, but the American launch is likely to follow.