Barely one month after a $US15billion civil settlement in North America, Volkswagen’s so-called ‘Dieselgate’ saga took another twist with the company claiming its exhaust system software does not breach European law.
News agency Reuters, quoting reports on German broadcasters NDR, WDR, and in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, speculates Volkswagen’s latest missive may be intended to bolster its position ahead of rumoured extra compensation claims in Europe.
While Volkswagen has agreed to the cash payouts in North America, the German giant has declined any suggestion from the European Commission for compensation to owners.
The latest development - in what is already one of the automotive industry’s biggest legal cases - follows a decision last month in a Spanish court which went in favour of an individual owner and fined Volkswagen’s Spanish subsidiary - a significant development given Spain is also home to the Volkswagen-owned Seat brand which employs thousands of workers.
However Volkswagen now claims: “The software contained in vehicles with an EA-189 engine in the view of Volkswagen represents no unlawful defeat device under European law. The efficiency of the emissions cleanup system will not be reduced in those vehicles which however would be a prerequisite for the existence of an unlawful defeat device in the legal sense.”
Despite rejecting these calls for financial compensation in Europe, Volkswagen continues to retrofit affected vehicles purely for goodwill - as directed by Germany’s motor vehicle authority the KBA.
As well, Volkswagen is at loggerheads with Germany’s Federal Environmental Agency and other health advocates as to whether nitrogen oxides contained in exhaust emissions are actually harmful to humans and the environment.