The Volkswagen diesel emissions subterfuge hit the news on September 18, just four days later VW said it was putting aside 6.5 billion euros ($7.3B US) to deal with the repercussion. The company said that up to 11 million cars around the world are affected, but even if only half need fixing, that 6.5 billion euros comes out to 1,182 euros ($1,302 US) per car. That's a sub-par number to contemplate repairing the problem and placating the owner, and that's before you get to the hundreds of lawsuits and government fines.

One month later, everyone is publicly stating that the original estimate is too low, starting with new Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller. He told a group of journalists on a factory tour last week that the 6.5 billion euro set-aside is just for the recall, but he had no numbers yet "about any further provisions."

Credit Suisse then sent a note to investors with its estimate of costs, the best-case scenario being a 23-billion-euro hit to the company, the worst case being a 78-billion-euro ($87B US) bloodbath. Credit Suisse said that the final costs "are unclear," but this is the range it believes takes into account the software and hardware fix - which is still unknown - setting owners right, and dealing with litigation. The bank thinks the largest line-item will be reimbursing owners, a tab that could tally 33 billion euros according to that highest estimate. Even at a cost of 6.5 billion euros, the VW bill will exceed every total bill for corporate malfeasance save for British Petroleum's $53.8 billion Deepwater Horizon debacle. A VW spokesperson called the Credit Suisse estimates "nonsense."


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