California settles with firm in Volkswagen emissions scandal

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California on Monday settled a lawsuit against a German company stemming from the emissions scandal that tarred Volkswagen in 2015 and Fiat Chrysler two years later.

German auto supplier Bosch will pay $25 million to settle allegations by the state and California Air Resources Board under a court complaint and settlement agreement, both filed Monday. A judge will need to sign off on the settlement.

Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler installed “defeat devices” in nearly 100,000 diesel passenger vehicles sold in California, the state said previously. The devices made it seem like the vehicles were meeting emissions requirements as they were undergoing testing, but on the road they actually polluted at many times the legal limit.

The settlement stems from some Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. from model year 2016 and earlier.

The complaint filed Monday said Bosch knew or should have known that the automakers were violating environmental and consumer protection laws, and that Bosch broke consumer protection laws through its marketing of Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler vehicles and its own diesel components.

“Bosch violated consumer trust when it gave Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler the technology they needed to skirt state and federal emissions tests,” Attorney General Rob Bonta said in announcing the settlement.

The Air Resources Board’s executive officer, Steven Cliff, said the company’s technology “was at the heart of the automobile emissions cheating scandals at Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler and that has led directly to increased emissions and unhealthful air, especially in neighborhoods suffering from persistent air pollution.”

Bosch said in a statement that it “neither acknowledges the validity of the claims … nor does it concede any liability.” But it said its “robust compliance systems, as well as its full cooperation” aided the settlement. It also said that since 2015, the company’s “already existing extensive compliance policies and procedures have been substantially enhanced.”

Aside from the $25 million, the settlement requires Bosch to make changes in its policies and procedures and to tell state officials if it discovers that a manufacturer will use or has used cheating technology.

California previously settled with Volkswagen for nearly $1.5 billion in environmental mitigation payments, investments in zero-emissions technology and other damages. The company also was required to buy back at least 85% of affected vehicles or make emissions modifications on those vehicles.

Fiat Chrysler paid more than $78 million and similarly was required to bring at least 85% of the affected vehicles into compliance.