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In wake of diesel scandal, Porsche gives its employees record bonuses

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Porsche

Porsche just announced that 15,600 of its employees will receive a record annual bonus of €8,911 ("911" as in "Porsche 911," get it?) for the past year. That works out to about $9,885 — €311 more than employees received last year, which company chairman Oliver Blume says is thanks due to "achieving such an exceptional result in what is by no means an easy environment."

It's almost as if Dieselgate didn't exist.

Porsche's corporate parent is Volkswagen Group, which is just beginning to deal with one of the largest corporate scandals in automotive history. Although it isn't the conglomerate's largest offender, Porsche is certainly complicit: the 3.0-liter diesel V-6 used by the Cayenne SUV has been called out as one of the engines that was equipped with software designed to evade emissions tests. As tone-deaf corporate maneuvers go, few are less popular than paying out bonuses in a time of crisis. Even so, the bonus — negotiated by the company's General Works Council, which represents employees — might not raise many eyebrows were it not for recent comments by Volkswagen CEO (and former Porsche boss) Mattias Müller that the company will need to curb R&D and may need to resort to job cuts as Dieselgate-related costs balloon. Just earlier this week, a €3.3 billion investor lawsuit was filed in Germany. In that context, handing out some €139 million in bonuses to employees of a wholly owned Volkswagen subsidiary seems particularly suspect.

"But our people have done a good job, haven't they?"

"There's probably nobody who expected this and hardly anyone would have dared hope for a result like this. But our people have done a good job, haven't they?" Uwe Hück, head of the General Works Council, is quoted as saying in Porsche's press release. He's not necessarily wrong: the company increased 2015 deliveries some 19 percent year over year, in what turned out to be a boom year for automakers worldwide. (He's also not wrong that there's "probably nobody who expected this.")

But the fact remains that Porsche and Volkswagen made at least some percentage of those sales off bogus emissions figures — and they'll almost certainly need billions of euros over the coming months and years to dig out of the hole.

Still, Porsche defends the move. "As you can see in our press release Porsche increased revenue and operating profit by a quarter in 2015," company spokesperson Matthias Rauter tells The Verge. "And it is good tradition that the Porsche employees share the success."