Volkswagen denies breaking the law

18 December 2015 | German carmaker doesn't agree it used illegal defeat devices in Australian cars.

VW emissions scandal in court

Lawyers for Volkswagen have told the Federal Court that the software used by the carmaker to cheat emissions tests didn't break Australian law, and that emissions rules were not breached with its Volkswagen, Skoda, and Audi brands.

Legal firms Bannister Law and Maurice Blackburn have launched class actions against the car manufacturer on behalf of 90,000 consumers who bought Volkswagen cars in Australia with the so-called defeat device that hid exhaust emissions.

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Volkswagen denies liability in Australia

Fairfax has reported that the defense team would not admit in court that nitrogen oxides produced by the vehicles were greater than permitted. It also reported the Volkswagen barrister as saying the exhaust gas re-circulation system used in the cars was not technically a 'defeat device' prohibited under Australian law. 

But according to one of the plaintiffs, there were discrepancies with what Volkswagen was telling the court and its public comments in Australia and overseas. "On the one hand Volkswagen was telling the public it was providing solutions to fix faulty models and on the other denying non-compliance with Australian standards," Cameron Moore, Barrister for Maurice Blackburn, reportedly told the court.

CHOICE director of campaigns and communications Matt Levey says Volkswagen has claimed their Australian cars do not have defeat devices even though they are identical to cars sold in Europe with defeat devices.  

"In CHOICE's view, it looks like Volkswagen is trying to stop Australian consumers from getting a quick, simple and fair solution to a recognised, international problem."

Volkswagen admitted in October that a total of 93,234 vehicles sold in Australia have been affected by the emissions scandal. Models include the Volkswagen Golf, Polo, Jetta and Passat; some commercial vehicles; and Audi and Skoda models; dating back up to 2008.

The case will return to court in April.

CHOICE thinks that consumers should be made aware of their rights under Australian law to a refund or replacement vehicle. Take action now if you think Volkswagen needs to "come clean" with their fuel efficiency claims.