Australian consumer watchdog sues Volkswagen
By Peter Teffer
Australia's consumer protection body is suing Volkswagen Group and its Australian daughter company for misleading consumers over emissions testing.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said in a statement on Thursday (1 September) that VW had broken Australian laws “by concealing software in their vehicles to cheat emissions testing and misleading consumers about the vehicle’s compliance with standards and emission levels during on-road conditions”.
The German carmaker, which is also being sued in three American states, admitted almost a year ago that it had fitted software into 11 million diesel cars that modified emissions during test conditions.
The Australian commission said VW's Australian subsidiary “marketed the vehicles in Australia as being environmentally friendly, clean burning, low emission and compliant with stringent European standards when this was not the case under normal driving conditions”.
“Consumers rightly expect that their vehicle’s emissions would operate as advertised during their day-to-day use and we allege that this was not the case with more than 57,000 vehicles sold in Australia by Volkswagen over a five-year period,” the commission's chairman Rod Sims said.
Volkswagen Australia said the legal action did not provide “any practical benefit to consumers, because software solutions for cars affected by the voluntary recall are expected soon”.
The Australian consumer commission said it wanted VW to receive a “significant penalty” to deter other car companies from cheating.
The law enforcement chiefs from New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland, who announced their lawsuit last July, also said they wanted VW to face “substantial penalties”.
The carmaker has already made a €13.2bn settlement with American consumers and the federal government, and a €1bn settlement with its US dealers.
In South Korea, the government banned the sale of nearly all VW models and gave a €14m fine.
Compared to actions worldwide, it has been relatively quiet in Europe on the legal front. Almost a year later, no authority has sued VW for the use of the illegal cheating software.
Last month, it did receive a €5m fine from the Italian Competition Authority for misleading advertisements.