VW to buy back vehicles in Dieselgate saga as it decides against appeal in Germany

23 June 2017

23 June 2017

In the latest twist of the Dieselgate saga, Volkswagen (VW) has agreed to buy back some cars in Germany that are fitted with emissions cheating software, after deciding not to appeal a court ruling backing drivers’ calls for compensation. 

First-instance rulings by the regional courts of Arnsberg and Bayreuth have now become legally binding after VW decided to waive an appeal, according to the plaintiffs’ lawyers at Dusseldorf-based law firm Rogert & Ulbrich. 

VW has played down the significance of the ruling, saying its decision to forego an appeal was an exception and stemmed from the low value of the vehicles in question. The manufacturer does not expect the two rulings to have any bearing on other ongoing cases and, if necessary, will use its right to appeal unjustified customer complaints in future. The announcement only affects a number of cars in the German region. 

The German vehicle manufacturer has repeatedly denied claims of any wrongdoing in Europe, stating that while vehicles are fitted with the software, it has never been used to cheat testing on the continent. It therefore believes there is no reason for it to compensate drivers of affected vehicles. However, in the US, the company has set aside $25 billion (€22.7 billion) to compensate drivers up to $10,000 (€9,000) and buy back some affected vehicles, with owners having lost faith in the brand.  

The carmaker did recently announce it was extending warranties on recalled vehicles in the EU by two years to cover any issues that the software removal causes, following reports that the ′fix was leading to problems including diesel particulate filter and exhaust gas recirculation valve failures, as well as increased fuel consumption and higher emission levels.  

Consumer groups have been pushing for compensation for EU drivers, and the manufacturer is facing class action lawsuits in Italy and the Netherlands, while legal firms in other countries are gathering people together for their own actions. While VW believes its actions not to appeal this ruling will not affect any other cases it is fighting, the news is certain to provide a boost to drivers involved in class action suits that they could receive some form of compensation for their trust being broken.  

VW won an appeal in Spain during April 2017, related to a consumer who wanted to cancel the purchase of an Audi A1 fitted with the 1.6-litre engine affected by the cheat software. Dealership Levante″¯Wagen″¯defended by saying neither the European nor Spanish regulations that applied to the sale required manufacturers to limit NOx″¯–″¯as″¯is required in the stricter American regulations. 

The company has rarely been out of the news since the saga first broke in 2015, and this year has seen claims that the fix applied to vehicles is failing to correct emissions figures, while the manufacturer has refused to publish a report into the scandal and Audi, part of the VW Group, has been instructed by German authorities to issue a recall on A7 and A8 models due to the software.  

Meanwhile, the US has issued international arrest warrants for five former Volkswagen managers accused of wrongdoing in connection with the carmaker’s diesel emissions-cheating scandal. The five ex-managers and developers, including two executives under former CEO Martin Winterkorn, were indicted by US authorities for conspiracy to commit fraud and violation of U.S. environmental rules.

Photograph courtesy of Volkswagen Group