Fines and appeals over Dieselgate continue to rock Volkswagen

29 November 2017

29 November 2017

German manufacturer Volkswagen (VW) is still facing the fallout from the Dieselgate scandal. While its compensation package is settled in the US, where the news of the emissions cheating broke, there are smaller, but still significant cases being brought in Europe.

German seafood company Deutsche See has appealed against a court’s rejection of its complaint against the manufacturer. The distributor said in February that it was taking legal action against the carmaker over malicious deception for leasing vehicles which it had said were environmentally friendly. The suit marked the first corporate case against VW in its home country since the emission cheating came to light in September 2015.

The fishmonger had been looking for compensation of €12.5 million and had said that it would consult with its lawyers about further legal steps it can take. The claim was made up of repayment of leasing installments as well as maintenance costs.

VW welcomed the ruling, releasing a statement saying: ′All the vehicles concerned meet the existing limits of the European Union with regard to exhaust gas emissions according to the software update, they are safe and driveable. This was confirmed by both courts and competent authorities following an extensive, multi-stage testing process involving external technical services.’ 

But the regional court in Brunswick near VW’s Wolfsburg headquarters last month rejected the Deutsche See’s lawsuit over lack of evidence of legally relevant deception. The company has now said it has filed an appeal at the Brunswick court and said that VW had shunned its multiple attempts to seek mediation.

Meanwhile, the Dutch markets watchdog has fined the German vehicle maker €450,000 for misleading consumers how bought its diesel cars between 2009 and 2015.

The Authority for Consumer & Markets (ACM) said it had levied the maximum fine it could on VW for its use of ′defeat devices,’ illegal software that made its cars emit less pollution during testing than they did on the road.

The ACM said on Tuesday that Volkswagen had misleadingly advertised the diesel cars as ′environmentally friendly’ from 2009-2015. In a statement it concluded: ′ACM has established that, in the period of 2009 to 2015, Volkswagen misled consumers about the most important features of its product. As a result, consumers may have made a different decision than if they had received the correct information. Diesel cars with type EA 189 engines of the brands Volkswagen, Audi, Å KODA, and Seat were presented as sustainable and environment-friendly, while the test results were not reliable due to the installed software.’

Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh, Member of the Board of ACM, explains: ′We have established that Volkswagen has misled Dutch consumers about the emission of harmful pollutants. Therefore, ACM has imposed a fine on Volkswagen. This will send a clear signal. Consumers are entitled to receiving reliable information.’

The move could lead to advertising authorities in other countries taking similar action, with the president set, this could lead to further fines being imposed on VW.

Photograph courtesy of Volkswagen Group