The German Ministry of Transport will not fine Volkswagen for its years of emissions cheating, despite a steep settlement with the US government over its diesel-powered vehicles. "We now have a situation in which Volkswagen is required to return the cars to a legally compliant condition," German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt told reporters on Wednesday, Bloomberg reports. "That is what is appropriate to remedy the damage that's been done."

The move isn't sitting well with common consumers or politicians. "It's not acceptable that the government doesn't take any real consequences from the emissions scandal and gives a blank check for tricks and deceptions," said Oliver Krischer, a Green Party representative in the Bundestag and the head of the parliamentary investigation committee. "It needs to be explained why companies in Germany don't pay fines. It's also not okay that European drivers are treated worse than American VW drivers."

VW is paying US TDI owners up to $10,000 each as part of a $15.3 billion settlement hammered out with Uncle Sam. Based on the lack of a payout in Europe, Germany's Bild asked in a take-down piece whether VW saw owners in its home market as "second class."

"German customers get a letter and an appointment at the workshop to fix the cheating diesels," Bild wrote on Wednesday, Bloomberg reports.

According to sources that spoke to Bloomberg, part of the reason VW might be getting away scot-free in its home market is because of the sheer number of affected vehicles in Germany and the larger European continent. The company only had to compensate owners of 482,000 vehicles in the US – that's a fraction of the 2 million cheating TDIs on German roads and the 8.5 million in Europe as a whole. Volkswagen's line, according to one of the company's critics, is that compensation for those vehicles would crush the company.

Company CEO Matthias Mueller (above) "is playing out a new card by telling the government: 'Don't put too much pressure on us, or we will go bust, and then all the jobs are gone'," attorney Christoph Rother told Bloomberg. Rother's firm, Berlin-based Hausfield, is part of a class-action suit on behalf of US consumers while also representing German drivers. "He's playing blackmail using a horror scenario."

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