After being thrust into the spotlight courtesy of the Dieselgate scandal in 2015, German automaker Volkswagen is currently facing a class-action lawsuit filed by more or less 91,000 British car owners at a High Court. Although the trial is not scheduled until 2023, VW might find itself in the middle of another battle as a second class-action lawsuit against the company is being organised by several lawyers on behalf of over 30,000 car owners. According to the group, this number could increase to around more than 80,000 drivers after the processing of paperwork is completed.
The lawsuit has been raised after allegations that VW intentionally fitted defeat devices into their diesel vehicles – such as the Skoda Superb, Audi A3, and the Golf – that were sold between the years 2008 and 2015. It’s the same issue that the automaker faced in the 2015 emissions scandal when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency discovered that the devices were installed to manipulate emissions levels during lab tests.
VW’s cheat software reduced NOx or nitrogen dioxide levels artificially so every time the vehicles were tested in the lab, emissions did not exceed legal limits. However, when driven in real-world conditions, the NOx emissions were way beyond the safe levels.
Like other car manufacturers that have been implicated in the scandal, VW denies the allegations and firmly believes that car owners do not have a valid claim. It should be worth remembering, however, that back in September 2015, Volkswagen admitted that they installed the so-called cheat devices.
The diesel emission scandal drastically shook things up for VW and the Volkswagen group. Fines, payouts, and litigation expenses have cost the company billions. In addition, the automaker also compensated its dealers for their losses, the cost of which has reached more or less $1.2 billion.
VW employees were also affected by the scandal as the company overhauled its operations in 2016, resulting in redundancies worldwide by more or less 30,000.
The emissions scandal has also caused the company’s reputation to plummet. Although VW has slowly worked its way back up over the past six years, there is still a lot of work to be done as many consumers are not yet as confident in the brand as they used to be. In fact, VW’s annual rankings in the Global 500 2020 annual report placed the automaker in 25th. Prior to Dieselgate, Volkswagen was ranked 18th among the most valuable brands worldwide.
As ruled by the courts, Volkswagen has also had to recall its affected diesel vehicles so these could be upgraded and fitted with better and safer engines.
But one of the most significant damages that the scandal brought on VW is the implication of its executives in the scandal. The first one to bow out was the company’s CEO, Martin Winterkorn, whose abrupt resignation five years ago made the headlines. A date has yet to be set for his trial on allegations of fraud and market manipulation.
Last year, 2020, eight other VW employees were charged with fraud, false certification, and violation of the law against unfair competition in connection to the emissions scandal. The employees are accused of encouraging the installation of the defeat devices on VW’s diesel vehicles despite the knowledge that the devices were illegal software. Six of the company’s managers have also been charged with various violations related to the scandal.
In addition, Rupert Stadler, a VW executive, is currently on trial for Dieselgate-related charges. His trial is expected to conclude in 2022.
Other Dieselgate manufacturers
Aside from Volkswagen and its VW group subsidiaries Audi, Seat, Skoda, and Porsche, other automakers have also been accused of installing cheat software in their diesel vehicles. Mercedes Benz emissions were also alleged to have been manipulated, as well the emissions tests of BMW, Ford, Vauxhall, Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Fiat, Renault, Suzuki, Jeep, Peugeot, and Nissan.
Each of these car brands has had to – and continue to – deal with fines, payouts, class-action lawsuits, and vehicle recalls.
Nitrogen oxides or NOx, the pollutant emitted by vehicles, are a danger to the environment and human health. Emissions that are 40 times above the legal level contribute to the formation of acid rain and fog, and can even form ground level ozone, which can lead to global warming and climate change.
For humans, exposure to both low and dangerous levels of nitrogen oxides can lead to asthma or aggravation of asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and other respiratory illnesses. It can even cause mental health-related problems such as anxiety and depression.
What you can do
If you want to contribute to the campaign of lowering and eventually eliminating NOx emissions, you can start by checking if your vehicle is fitted by a defeat device. Manufacturer websites allow you to verify if your automobile is on the list. Mercedes-Benz, for example, has a page that’s dedicated to Mercedes diesel claims, where car owners can check the list of affected vehicles.
If your car is affected, get in touch with a team of professional and expert solicitors or emissions experts. Work with the energetic and experienced team of Emissions.co.uk if you want higher chances of a successful claim.