Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
Leonardo DiCaprio, center, attends a Divest-Invest news conference last month in New York. DiCaprio has been a major environmental champion for years and, after his studio purchased the rights to a forthcoming book, will produce a film about the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

AUTO ROUNDUP: VW Scandal Will Hit the Big Screen

Oct. 13, 2015
In other auto news: Volkswagen cuts 1 billion euros from its annual investment budget ... Auto sales edge up in China after five straight monthly drops.

LOS ANGELES — Hollywood is planning a movie about Volkswagen’s emissions-cheating scandal, with longtime environmental champion Leonardo DiCaprio set to produce the film.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Paramount and DiCaprio’s production company Appian Way have bought the rights to an upcoming book on the scandal, which has sent ripples across the globe.

The auto giant stands accused of installing software on millions of diesel cars to cheat emissions tests and evade limits on nitrogen oxide and other pollutants. The scandal has deeply damaged the image of the carmaker and led to the resignation of CEO Martin Winterkorn.

DiCaprio is an outspoken advocate for environmental issues and his Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has donated millions for environmental causes. The award-winning actor has also been involved in a number of film projects that touch on environmental issues including “The 11th Hour”, a documentary about the state of the planet.

MORE VOLKSWAGEN: FRANKFURT, Germany — Volkswagen said Tuesday that it would slash its annual investment budget by 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion) for its main VW brand in the wake of the pollution-cheating scandal.

“The newly-constituted management board of the VW brand has taken a number of strategic decisions in an extraordinary meeting today,” the company said in a statement. 

Among other measures, brand chief Herbert Diess had decided “that investments will be cut by one billion euros per year and efficiency measures will be stepped up,” the statement said.

“The Volkswagen brand is realigning itself for the future. We will be more efficient, will reorganize our product range and core technologies, and with the accelerated efficiency measures we will have more room for trend-setting new technologies,” Diess said. He vowed to implement the measures with “all our strength. … Even in difficult times, the Volkswagen team has again and again proved.”

CHINA: BEIJING — Auto sales in China edged up in September from a year ago, snapping a five-month falling streak in the world’s largest car market, an industry group said Tuesday.

Vehicle sales in the country began dropping in April as the world’s second-largest economy lost steam and consumer income growth slowed, battering demand for new cars. But a total of 2.02 million cars were sold in September, up 2.08% from a year ago, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said in a statement.

The increase was mainly driven by demand for sport utility vehicles, which saw sales surge 58.79% year-on-year to more than 566,000 units, CAAM added. Total sales soared 21.60% compared to August, it said, without explanation.

In an attempt to support the auto sector, the State Council, China’s cabinet, cut purchase taxes by half on passenger cars with small engines from the start of this month. The move restored an incentive first imposed in 2009 during the global financial crisis that was withdrawn two years later.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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