VW bill for U.S. diesel buybacks: $2.9 billion and counting

WASHINGTON — Volkswagen AG has paid $2.9 billion to repurchase nearly 138,000 U.S. diesel vehicles through Feb. 18 under a sweeping settlement over emissions violations, a court document made public on Tuesday shows.

The report by an independent claims supervisor said the German automaker is buying back and terminating leases on about 15,000 vehicles a week. VW has made offers to buyback vehicles or cancel leases to 323,179 U.S. consumers totaling $5.86 billion, it said.

VW agreed last year to spend up to $10.03 billion to buy back up to 487,000 polluting 2.0-liter vehicles that have software that allowed them to evade emissions rules in testing.

Earlier this month, a federal judge granted preliminary approval to a plan for Volkswagen to pay at least $1.22 billion to fix or buy back a separate group of vehicles — nearly 80,000 polluting 3.0-liter diesel vehicles.

The 3.0 liter vehicles have an undeclared auxiliary emissions system that allowed the vehicles to emit up to nine times allowable limits.

Volkswagen could be forced to pay up to $4.04 billion if regulators do not approve fixes for all 3.0-liter luxury Porsche, Audi and VW diesel vehicles in the settlement. U.S. Judge Charles Breyer will hold a hearing on May 11 on whether to grant final approval to the proposal.

In total, VW has now agreed to spend up to $25 billion in the United States to address claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers and to make buyback offers.

Volkswagen is set to plead guilty on March 10 in Detroit to three felony counts under a plea agreement to resolve U.S. charges it installed secret software in vehicles to allow them to emit pollution up to 40 times the legal limit.

As part of a $4.3 billion settlement with U.S. regulators, VW agreed to sweeping reforms, new audits and oversight by an independent monitor for three years to resolve diesel emissions-cheating investigations.

FCA reveals U.S. state, federal probes on diesel emissions

DETROIT — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has received subpoenas from U.S. federal and state authorities, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, related to alleged excess diesel emissions by some of its vehicles, the automaker revealed in a filing with the SEC on Tuesday.

On the diesel emissions issue, FCA said it has “received various inquiries, subpoenas and requests for information from a number of governmental authorities, including the U.S. Department of Justice, the SEC and several states’ attorneys general. We are investigating these matters and we intend to cooperate with all valid governmental requests,” FCA said in its annual report.

Earlier this month, a person briefed on the matter said the Justice Department has been involved in the matter for more than six months after getting a referral from the Environmental Protection Agency in July. Involvement by the SEC and state attorneys general has not been previously disclosed.

FCA said Jan. 12 that the Justice Department was investigating the matter.

The same day, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne rejected the allegations, saying there was no wrongdoing and the company never attempted to create software to cheat emissions rules by detecting when the vehicle was in test mode.

He called the allegations “unadulterated hogwash.”

FCA in its annual report said it is not able to predict the outcome of the investigations, but disclosed that “the resolution of these matters could have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows and may adversely affect our reputation with consumers, which may negatively impact demand for our vehicles.”

In January, the EPA said the maximum possible fine against FCA could be $4.6 billion.

FCA also is facing scrutiny of its emissions compliance from European regulators. The French government said earlier this month that its Consumer Protection Agency had asked a prosecutor to investigate FCA’s diesel vehicles.

FCA in its annual report said government and regulatory scrutiny “is expected to remain high.”

The focus FCA top management must pay to regulatory intervention “may divert attention from other key aspects of our business plan” and may require more recalls of vehicles.

Last July, FCA confirmed that the SEC and the Justice Department is investigating its U.S. vehicle sales reporting. Soon after that confirmation, FCA revised more than five years of monthly U.S. vehicle sales figures to reflect a new reporting method.

CEO pay

Separately within the filing, Marchionne collected about $12 million in total compensation last year, midway through what the CEO has billed as his final five-year plan for the company.

Marchionne received a salary of about $4 million and a bonus worth $7 million, according to the filing. He also received non-cash benefits, such as insurance premiums and tax services, worth about $1 million. The total pay package compares with about $11.1 million in 2015.

The CEO has been revamping Fiat Chrysler’s lineup by eliminating the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 passenger cars while investing in the profitable Jeep SUV line to eliminate net debt by the end of his plan in 2018. After that, Marchionne has said he intends to retire.

The compensation figures were reported in euros in an annual filing and converted to dollars at the average 2016 rate of about $1.11.

This year, Marchionne is due to receive a bonus of about $6.5 million based on the company’s 2016 performance, according to the filing.

For 2015, General Motors paid CEO Mary Barra $28.6 million and Ford Motor Co. paid CEO Mark Fields $18.6 million. The companies have yet to report compensation for their top executives for 2016.

Bloomberg contributed to this report.

Top Republican says Trump’s budget plan ‘dead on arrival’

President Donald Trump (C) prepares to sign the the Waters of the US (WOTUS) executive order.

Republicans are lining up against President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the State Department, hours before his address to Congress.

Mr Trump’s 2018 budget blueprint reportedly includes a 37% spending cut for the State Department and US Agency for International Development (USAID).

He will set out to convince Congress of his proposal in his first address to a joint session on Tuesday night.

But Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said his plan was “dead on arrival”.

“It’s not going to happen. It would be a disaster. If you take soft power off the table then you’re never going to win the war,” Senator Graham said.

The increase in US military spending almost equals Russia’s entire defence budget

Soft power is an American term that refers to diplomatic tools such as foreign aid and humanitarian relief.

“What’s most disturbing about the cut to the State Department’s budget is it shows a lack of understanding of what it takes to win the war,” Senator Graham continued.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also said Mr Trump’s reported deep cuts to the State Department would “probably not” pass Congress.

The Republican-controlled Congress must approve any federal spending.


To the White House, foreign aid might seem like an easy target for cuts, but those who protect the country think otherwise.

In their letter to lawmakers more than 120 former military officers quoted the Defence Secretary, James Mattis, from his days as a field commander: “If you don’t fully fund the State Department then I need to buy more ammunition.”

They argued that strengthening diplomacy and development were critical to preventing conflict. International assistance in the State Department budget does more than respond to humanitarian needs, it also supports policy goals.

For example, it supplements the military fight against the so-called Islamic State through programmes to disrupt the group’s financing and recruitment, and to stabilise communities where IS has been driven out.

There’s money to address the underlying causes of migration from Central America, and to strengthen allies such as Afghanistan and Ukraine.

The former Secretary of State John Kerry was known to make a strong case for increasing the department’s financing, (which at $50bn makes up just 1% of the entire budget).

The new Secretary, Rex Tillerson, will have to fight simply to keep what he has, or the State Department will be marginalised in an administration focused on the military.


The president released a budget proposal on Monday calling for a $54bn (£43bn) boost to military spending.

This would be paid for, according to the plan, by gutting other programmes including foreign aid and the environmental agency.

The White House also plans to reduce spending for the State Department and USAID, say US media reports, which together received an estimated $50.1bn during the current fiscal year, or a little more than 1% of the total federal budget.

More than 120 retired generals have signed a letter urging Congress not to cut funding for diplomacy and foreign aid.

Trump’s speech to Congress is his chance for a “reset”, Obama’s speechwriter Cody Keenan tells Today

The letter said: “As you and your colleagues address the federal budget for Fiscal Year 2018, we write as retired three and four star flag and general officers from all branches of the armed services to share our strong conviction that elevating and strengthening diplomacy and development alongside defense are critical to keeping America safe.”

Development assistance would probably be hardest hit while staff reductions would see fewer security contractors at diplomatic missions abroad, the Associated Press news agency reported, citing officials familiar with the proposal.

The Office of Management and Budget has not yet said where overall reductions would occur.

The Republican pushback over Mr Trump’s reported plan comes as the president is set to deliver his first major speech to Congress since taking office.


An address to Congress is a different kind of presidential speech. Will the American public see a different Donald Trump?

If history is any guide, that seems unlikely. Every time there has been talk of a pivot or shift of focus for candidate Trump, or president-elect Trump, or President Trump, the end result has been the same Donald Trump as always – blustering and belligerent, unvarnished and unapologetic.

Mr Trump would be well-served to take a different tack tonight, however. While he’s spent his first month in office in a blizzard of activity, issuing executive orders and squelching controversies, there’s been little progress with his agenda in Congress.

Top-line items like tax cuts and healthcare reform will be heavy legislative lifts with a baulky conservative caucus in the House and a narrow Republican majority in the Senate, requiring presidential leadership of a kind not yet demonstrated by Mr Trump.

Recent opinion polls have shown the president’s standing with the public improving after a dismal first few weeks, but any progress can quickly evaporate if his “man of action” bravado runs headfirst into congressional obstinance.

Tuesday night’s speech is the president’s first major opportunity to avoid that outcome.


He is expected to set out in greater detail his plans to cut spending and boost the economy as well as offer an “optimistic vision” about the “renewal of the American spirit”, a senior White House official told the BBC.

At least one Democrat has said he will refuse to shake Mr Trump’s hand before the speech, bucking a longstanding bipartisan tradition in presidential first addresses to Congress.

A week in the life of the White House press briefing room

Representative Eliot Engel, a top New York Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he would not shake Mr Trump’s hand as he entered the chamber, citing the president’s attacks on media and refusal to work with Congress.

It will be the first time Mr Engel has not sought a centre aisle seat to shake the president’s hand in his 29 years serving in the House.

Car insurance: Chancellor moves to ease insurers’ fears

Wrecked car on a tow truck

Chancellor Philip Hammond has said the government will “urgently” consult on future changes to compensation rates for victims of car accidents.

Insurers have warned that car insurance premiums could “soar” due to a new government formula for calculating personal injury payments.

Mr Hammond met insurance bosses on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

In a joint statement with the industry, he said the system must be “fair” to claimants as well as other drivers.

“The government will progress urgently with a consultation on the framework for setting future rates, and bring forward any necessary legislation at an early stage,” Mr Hammond said.

However, he did not commit to making changes to the formula before it comes into force next month.

Mr Hammond met chief executives and other senior executives from 15 major insurance firms, including Aviva, Direct Line and Admiral.

Ahead of the meeting, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) had said it would urge the chancellor to block the new formula before it kicks in on 20 March.

The ABI said the “crazy” change could increase car insurance premiums for young drivers by up to £1,000 a year.


Accident victims are paid compensation in a single lump sum, which in serious cases is supposed to support them for the rest of their lives.

But someone who receives that lump sum can actually increase that amount by investing it, and getting a cash return.

So to be fair to insurance companies, the payout is reduced accordingly.

For the past 16 years the discount rate, as it is called, has been set at a typical rate of 2.5% – making the payout that much smaller.

Now the Ministry of Justice to reduce the discount rate from 2.5% to minus 0.75%.

That will result in more money for the victim, but a higher cost for the insurer.

The change was ordered because the formula assumes the victim were to invest his or her money in government bonds.

By the time inflation is taken into account, real returns on such bonds have become negative.


The reaction of the insurance industry has been overwhelmingly negative, with some insurers saying that profits would be hit by hundreds of millions of pounds.

Aviva became the latest insurance firm to on Tuesday, saying the change would cost it £385m in profit.

However, lawyers who campaigned in favour of the change said it was “long overdue”.

Accident victims who suffer long-term injuries are set to benefit as they will receive higher payouts under the new formula.

The Ministry of Justice said on Monday it would launch a consultation before Easter on how the system can be made fairer.

It said it would bring forward any necessary legislation “at an early stage”.

Car insurance: Chancellor vows action on compensation rates

Wrecked car on a tow truck

Chancellor Philip Hammond has said the government will “urgently” consult on future changes to compensation rates.

Insurers have warned that car insurance premiums could “soar” as a result of changes next month to the formula for calculating personal injury payments.

Mr Hammond met insurance bosses on Tuesday to discuss the changes.

In a joint statement with the industry afterwards, the Chancellor said the system must be “fair” to claimants as well as other drivers.

“The government will progress urgently with a consultation on the framework for setting future rates, and bring forward any necessary legislation at an early stage,” Mr Hammond said.

However, he did not commit to making changes to the formula before it comes into force next month.

Mr Hammond met chief executives and other senior executives from 15 major insurance firms, including Aviva, Direct Line and Admiral.

Ahead of the meeting, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said it would urge the chancellor to block the new formula before it kicks in on 20 March.

The ABI said the “crazy” change could increase car insurance premiums for young drivers by up to £1,000 a year.


Accident victims are paid compensation in a single lump sum, which in serious cases is supposed to support them for the rest of their lives.

But someone who receives that lump sum can actually increase that amount by investing it, and getting a cash return.

So to be fair to insurance companies, the payout is reduced accordingly.

For the past 16 years the discount rate, as it is called, has been set at a typical rate of 2.5% – making the payout that much smaller.

Now the Ministry of Justice to reduce the discount rate from 2.5% to minus 0.75%.

That will result in more money for the victim, but a higher cost for the insurer.

The change was ordered because the formula assumes the victim were to invest his or her money in government bonds.

By the time inflation is taken into account, real returns on such bonds have become negative.


The reaction of the insurance industry has been overwhelmingly negative, with some insurers saying that profits would be hit by hundreds of millions of pounds.

Aviva became the latest insurance firm to on Tuesday, saying the change would cost it £385m in profit.

However, lawyers who campaigned in favour of the change said it was “long overdue”.

Accident victims are set to benefit as they will receive higher pay-outs under the Ministry of Justice’s new formula.

Shift to fancy gear knobs draws ire of Consumer Reports

WASHINGTON — Automakers have been replacing traditional gear shifts with buttons, knobs and wheels to spruce up vehicle interiors — but that is confusing motorists and diminishing safety, Consumer Reports says.

The magazine on Tuesday docked scores of 50 vehicles evaluated as part of its 2017 annual auto brand rankings. It flagged designs on Acura, Cadillac and Lincoln as potentially confusing. Certain shift designs from Chrysler, Jaguar, Audi and other brands lack countermeasures to prevent rollaway accidents, the magazine said.

“What we’re seeing is a proliferation,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of auto testing, adding that the new gear shift designs are now appearing in mainstream cars after first emerging in luxury vehicles. “The problem is they’re all over the place, they’re confusing, there are defects out there and there have been deaths.”

Concern over the move away from traditional shifters for automatic transmissions — those with fixed positions for park, drive and reverse — was the biggest change in the magazine’s 2017 auto rankings, which named Audi the best auto brand for the second-straight year and featured Tesla Inc. debuting as the top U.S.-made brand and eighth overall.

Automakers have begun replacing traditional shifters by installing knobs or buttons mounted on the center console to cycle through drive modes, for example.

The new designs can be dangerous if used improperly, and Consumer Reports said it had deducted points from vehicles if the car does not automatically return to park when the engine is shut off or when the driver’s door is opened while the engine is running.

The risks attracted fresh attention last summer following the death of Star Trek actor Actor Anton Yelchin, who died after his Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled down his driveway and pinned him against a fence. The Jeep was among roughly 800,000 vehicles recalled last year by Fiat Chrysler to address the shift-related rollaway risk, linked to 41 injuries.

“FCA US acknowledges the observations of Consumer Reports and is reviewing its shifter strategy,” Fiat Chrysler said in a statement.

Should the latest AWS outage scare you away from the public cloud?

s3outage.jpg

On Tuesday, Amazon Web Services (AWS) experienced outage-like issues with its S3 cloud storage, taking some business customers offline and causing slowdowns for others.

AWS has existed for longer than a lot of us realize—S3 is the oldest iteration of it, and it’s been around since 2006. Downtimes are rare in the public cloud, and any interruption can seem like the end of the internet as we know it.

One look at Twitter and you’ll find countless people who are locked out of essential services: IFTTT was completely knocked offline, Slack was decidedly less chatty, and other East Coast businesses were suffering severe slowdowns and lag times.

SEE: Amazon Web Services: The smart person’s guide

Amazon hasn’t called this error an outage, saying instead that it was an error rate issue that was simply causing massive slowdowns. If all of this is bringing back memories of the 2015 AWS outage you might be rethinking business in the public cloud, but don’t start backing out yet.

99.99% uptime

Amazon’s stated S3 uptime goal is 99.99%, also known as “four nines,” which equates to around an hour of downtime per year, according to Dave Bartoletti, public cloud analyst at Forrester Research. Instead of downtime, though, Bartoletti said we need to think about S3’s actual uptime.

“S3 has consistently outperformed the four nines they shoot for, year over year,” Bartoletti said. He also added that the 2015 AWS outage wasn’t even S3.

AWS, Bartoletti said, is the perfect example of cloud done right. “This isn’t a normal incident, nor do we see any indication that the public cloud is becoming unreliable,” Bartoletti said. “It’s simply a hiccup.”

Should you still reconsider?

Outages like this one may be short, but that doesn’t mean they don’t result in lost revenue. Some e-commerce sites and companies that rely on visitors to earn revenue simply can’t make money if no one can reliably access their site.

Does that mean the public cloud is immature, unstable, or simply not a good idea? Not at all, Bartoletti argued. “No data has been lost due to S3’s incredible redundancy, which is a key feature of the public cloud. It’s backed up around the world.”

So, how should a company approach a move to the public cloud? Bartoletti said there are two things to consider.

First, check with potential hosts to see what their uptime has been for the past two years. It’s unlikely, he said, that local hosting or a private data center can match it.

Second is the issue of what to do instead of the public cloud. The high level of redundancy that it offers means a company would need to have private data centers all over the country that would serve the site and act as backups. The budget needed to build that many data centers alone would be enough to bankrupt many companies not to mention additional maintenance costs.

Public cloud outages can seem alarming, but when four nines or better is your average uptime, there’s not much to worry about. According to Bartoletti, the alternatives are simply too expensive or impractical to be realistic for all but the largest organizations.

Barra ‘exploring opportunities’ for Opel with Peugeot

WASHINGTON — General Motors CEO Mary Barra said the automaker is exploring opportunities with French automaker PSA Group , but declined to discuss a potential sale of its money-losing European Opel unit.

Barra, speaking Tuesday at the Economic Club of Washington, did not address in detail the talks with Peugeot that became public two weeks ago and refused to say when the largest U.S. automaker might decide whether to sell Opel, which has lost money for 16 straight years, to Peugeot.

“We’ve done a lot to improve the business but we’re exploring opportunities to see if we can accelerate that even more because scale does matter in this business,” she said. “We’re continuing the dialogue.”

Barra also said that the automaker backs corporate tax reform, but raised concerns about a Republican “border adjustment” tax proposal.

“If not done very thoughtfully it could be problematic,” she said, saying tax reform needs to avoid “unintended consequences.”

The planned border adjustment tax would impose a 20 percent tax on imported goods while providing write-offs for goods that are exported. Some automakers have raised concerns about the tax, especially because all U.S.-built vehicles include a significant number of foreign-produced parts.

No timetable

Some reports in Europe have suggested GM could have a deal with PSA as early as next week, but Barra declined to discuss a timetable.

PSA, the Paris-based maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars, and GM confirmed on Feb. 14 they were in talks over a PSA-Opel tie-up to create Europe’s second-largest carmaker by sales after Volkswagen AG.

Acquiring GM’s Opel and Vauxhall brands would give PSA a 16.3 percent share of the European passenger car market, vaulting it ahead of French rival Renault SA.

PSA and GM have tried before to combine their small cars in the failed centerpiece of a “global strategic alliance” unveiled in 2012, and rapidly scaled back to three shared projects from 40 initially considered.

Last week, German magazine Der Spiegel reported GM told Peugeot it would only sell licenses for the manufacture of Opel cars to the French company if it agreed not to sell the vehicles in North America, Russia or China.

Dyson to open new UK tech campus

Dyson institute

A new multimillion-pound research and development centre is being opened in Wiltshire by Sir James Dyson.

The new tech campus will be based on a 517-acre former Ministry of Defence (MoD) site at Hullavington.

The vacuum and electronics company is aiming to double its workforce to about 7,000 in the next five or six years.

Sir James said: “After 25 years of UK growth, and continuing expansion globally, we are fast outgrowing our Malmesbury Campus.”

The company’s headquarters are based in Malmesbury.

“The 517-acre Hullavington Campus is an investment for our future, creating a global hub for our research and development endeavours.

“It will enable us to continue creating world-class products and jobs right here in the Cotswolds,” he said.

“We’ve grown so fast over the last four years,” says Sir James Dyson

In September, Sir James announced plans to launch the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology – a new university based in Malmesbury.

Earlier in February, the company opened a technology centre in Singapore.

Dyson already has two sites in the UK – its Malmesbury HQ and a Bristol software hub.

Dyson has not disclosed how much will be invested in the Hullavington site, but the group has pledged to pump £2.5bn into future technologies and currently spends £7m a week on R&D.

Sir James added: “To win in the world stage you have to develop new technology and develop great products and that’s what we’re doing here.

“Because we’re able to do this successfully, we’re able to export our products all around the world and enjoy the really fast expanding markets that exist in the Far East.”

No information has been released from Dyson about what will be developed at Hullavington.

Mayor of Malmesbury, Wayne Jones said: “He bought a battery company a couple of years ago so there is talk it will involve some sort of battery production or vehicle production.

“My gut feeling is he’ll go down the electric car route.”

Site preparations for the first stage of the Hullavington campus will begin next week and hangars at the MoD site will be restored from May onwards.

It is hoped that the hangars will be in use by the end of the year.

The site was originally an RAF training station, first opened in 1937, but has been largely inactive since the mid-1990s and was one of 12 put up for sale by the MoD in January 2016.


Will Takata plea deal kill civil suits against automakers?

NEW YORK — Honda, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda and BMW are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Miami to argue that a $1 billion plea agreement between the U.S. Justice Department and the airbag maker Takata Corp. should absolve them from liability for installing dangerous Takata airbags in tens of millions of cars sold in the U.S.

Takata admitted as part of the plea that it reported incorrect airbag test results to carmakers. So according to the automakers, they are properly viewed as victims of Takata’s admittedly fraudulent scheme — not as perpetrators of their own deception of car buyers.

Takata has agreed to set up an $850 million fund to compensate automakers for the cost of replacing recalled airbags.

Owners of the cars, who are suing the automakers for economic damages in consolidated litigation, have a rather different view of the implications of Takata’s guilty plea, which was approved Monday by U.S. District Judge George Steeh of Detroit. Their lawyers, led by Peter Prieto of Podhurst Orseck, claim to have plenty of evidence that carmakers were independently aware of problems with Takata’s airbags.

Takata’s guilty plea, car owners argued in a status report filed Monday with U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno of Miami, proves nothing at all about what the carmakers themselves knew about flaws in the airbags, which were installed even after car owners began reporting dangerous ruptures.

“Despite this knowledge, the automotive defendants continued to equip their vehicles with Takata’s ticking time bombs and misrepresent to the unsuspecting public that their vehicles were safe,” car owners said in the status report.

Billions at stake

The dispute over the automakers’ liability could be worth hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. In addition to the cost of replacing faulty airbags — which could be nearly $8 billion, according to the judge who approved Takata’s guilty plea — car owners contend Honda, Ford and the other carmakers owe them damages because car buyers overpaid for defective vehicles that have diminished in value.

Car owners also claimed in their latest consolidated complaint that they deserve punitive damages from automakers.

The automakers said in their status report to Miami judge Morena that Takata’s admissions in its agreement with the Justice Department undermine car owners’ claims for economic losses.

“The plea agreement confirms, among other things, that Takata engaged in a fraudulent scheme to keep the automotive defendants from knowing what Takata knew about the inflators and their potential to rupture,” the carmakers said in a status report filed last week.

“Even before Takata’s admission of guilt, plaintiffs had no way to prove they suffered actual economic loss, as the automotive defendants are offering, and will continue to offer, free replacements of recalled Takata inflators. In short, Takata’s guilty plea makes the theory of plaintiffs’ case even more implausible than it already was.”

Plaintiffs’ lawyers said in their retort Monday that Honda and the other carmakers had overstated the impact of the Takata plea deal, which, “neither excuses the automotive defendants’ own reckless, deceptive conduct nor undermines the economic loss claims asserted against them.”

The filing accused carmakers of opting to use Takata airbags to save time and money.

In a response issued late Monday, Honda called the allegation that cost considerations led it to use a dangerous product “categorically false,” adding that Takata’s airbag components were not even consistently priced lower than those of competitors. (Honda also reiterated that Takata’s guilty plea belies car owners’ economic loss claims.)

‘Limited’ impact

Takata and its U.S. subsidiary, TK Holdings, meanwhile, argued in their status report to Judge Moreno that the parent corporation’s admissions in its plea deal with the government should have “limited (if any) impact” on car owners’ economic loss claims in the consolidated civil litigation.

As part of the plea deal, Takata agreed to establish a $125 million restitution fund for plaintiffs who were injured by defective airbags. Those claims are consolidated on a separate track from the economic loss claims.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a columnist for Reuters.