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Supplier alleged to have helped VW emissions cheat - report

By Graeme Roberts | 18 August 2016

Bosch began playing a key role in developing Volkswagen AGs emission-cheating technology as early as the late 1990s, lawyers for US VW owners have said in a court filing

Bosch began playing a key role in developing Volkswagen AG's emission-cheating technology as early as the late 1990s, lawyers for US VW owners have said in a court filing

Robert Bosch began playing a key role in developing Volkswagen AG's emission-cheating technology as early as the late 1990s, lawyers for VW owners have said in a court filing cited by Bloomberg. It includes detailed allegations against the supplier.

Bosch was an "active participant in a massive, decade-long conspiracy with VW," the lawyers reportedly said. Bosch has been a defendant in the case as VW negotiated a multibillion-dollar US buyback plan for the diesel vehicles rigged to cheat emissions control tests.

According to Bloomberg, citing a Tuesday filing in San Francisco federal court, evidence obtained by car owners shows that Bosch participated in the development of the defeat device.

The news agency noted the move against the supplier is the latest sign of the continued legal pressure on Volkswagen despite the recent US settlement. Bosch isn't a part of the US$15.3bn deal, which won preliminary approval from US District Court Judge Charles Breyer in July and VW is still facing a criminal probe.

Car owners in Europe are also seeking access to Justice Department documents about the case, German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported.

Meanwhile, a UK motoring website reported Wednesday of four consumer complaints of unsatisfactory software updates on 2.0TDI engine-equipped Tiguan SUVs.

Bosch lawyer Matthew Slater declined to comment Wednesday to Bloomberg on the filing, in which many of the allegations involving the company are redacted.

The supplier doesn't see the need to put more money aside for legal costs, leaving its provisions for such issues at EUR650m ($735m), spokesman Rene Ziegler told Bloomberg on Thursday.

"We don't know the exact details of what happened at this point, but what's clear is that the fallout involves companies beyond VW," Marc-Rene Tonn, an industry analyst at Warburg Research in Hamburg, told Bloomberg. "The fallout from the VW diesel cheating is complex and broad, and it'll continue for a long while yet."

Citing the filing, Bloomberg said the "ingeniously designed defeat devices" were armed with software provided by Bosch and designed to recognise when the car was being tested in a lab or smog station to feign clean emissions and compliance with pollution standards. All the while, according to the filing, Bosch marketed "clean diesel" technology in the US and lobbied US regulators to approve the vehicles included in VW's settlement, the report said.

VW has agreed settlements to get 482,000 emissions-cheating diesel cars off US roads that cover car owners, the US federal government and 44 states. They will cost the company about $15.3bn if fully adopted. That includes VW's $603m additional accord with US states that isn't part of the settlement to be considered by Breyer for final approval later this year.

According to Bloomberg, the carmaker said this week it's working to reach a final settlement with the US Justice Department and other regulators.

It also faces lawsuits by car owners in Europe, where most of the 11m rigged vehicles were sold, as well as environmental and other types of claims in the US.

Bosch declined to comment to just-auto on the reports.

Case documents here