Volkswagen Diesel Emissions – Basic Facts
In September 2015, following investigation by the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), Volkswagen admitted to the EPA that “defeat device” software had been installed in its diesel automobiles in order to meet the EPA’s emissions standards while testing was being done. Eleven million vehicles are affected worldwide including models of Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda manufactured from 2009 to 2014. Cars with the “defeat device” software dump up to 40 times more pollutants into the environment when being driven than buyers of the vehicles or environmental authorities were led to believe. The cars only appear to be “clean” or non-polluting when testing is being carried out.
US Class Action Lawsuits
At the present time, more than 200 class action lawsuits have been filed in the United States on behalf of American car owners whose vehicles have been fitted with software that controls the spewing out of noxious pollutants when the cars are undergoing testing. Volkswagen car owners in the United States are angry; they feel that they have been misled and lied to. Most paid extra in order to buy a car that was advertised as “clean” and environmentally friendly, only to find out later that they did not get what they had been promised or what they had paid for.
The class action lawsuits filed in the USA name Volkswagen’s US company, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., as defendant. Some complaints also include the German “mother” company, Volkswagen AG. Others also name Bosch Group, the German based companies that manufactured the emissions’ testing evasive software.
Less than 500,000 of the 11 million affected cars are in the United States. The rest are distributed throughout the world with a large number in Europe, with at least 2.8 million in Germany alone as reported by the dpa or Deutsche Presse Agentur on October 2, 2015.
Car owners outside the United States are not automatically “covered” by the class action lawsuits filed in the United States on behalf of US car owners. Car owners in other parts of the world need to take their own legal steps to protect their rights.
Lawsuits Outside the US
In some circumstances, it will make sense for a car owner to file his or her own lawsuit against Volkswagen or one of its related companies.
In other circumstances, it may make more sense for a car owner to join a lawsuit filed on behalf of a group of car owners. Some, but not all jurisdictions, permit groups to join together to file lawsuits.
We will consult with each car owner individually, discuss the options for proceeding, and after being informed of the options, will assist each individual in deciding the best way to proceed in order to best protect his or her rights.
We work with other attorneys involved in Volkswagen issues via our membership in Global Justice Network and other organizations.
If my Car is “Fixed” will all my Problems be Solved?
At the time of this writing, Volkswagen has not yet identified exactly how the software problem will be ‘fixed”, therefore it is too soon to say exactly what problems you, or your car, will have after the recall and repair. It is believed, however, based on data available to date that your car will not be completely “fixed” even after being repaired and you will have the following residual problems:
The resale value of your car will go down,
Your car’s fuel consumption will go up,
meaning you will have to pay more for diesel
to drive the same distance
as before the repair, and
Your car’s power will go down
as a result of the repair.
There may be other problems, too, that may depend upon where you live, such car tax going up, you car’s being unable to be driven into the centers of cities for environmental reasons, etc.
How can I tell if my Car is Affected?
The manufacturers of cars containing the deceptive software have set up websites for owners to check to see if their cars are really affected; you will need to input your car’s VIN or vehicle identification number in order to check. The VIN is a 17 digit number that you can usually find in the front of your service manual or in the lower area of your car’s windshield on the driver’s side.
For Volkswagen cars outside the US or Canada, click here.
For Audi cars, information is available here.
For Skoda vehicles, information is available here.
For Seat cars, click here.
Help, I own one of these Cars! What Should I do now?
If you own an affected car, here are some suggestions of things you should now do:
Write to us using the contact form below. We will send you more specific information via email.
Keep track of your car’s current gas consumption. In other words, the next time you buy diesel, fill your car up and note exactly how many kilometres are showing on your car when you buy the diesel. When you put diesel in the next time,
fill the tank up and note exactly how many litres you purchase
and how many kilometres are showing on your car.
This will permit you to calculate how many kilometres you have driven.
Make notes regarding whether your driving has been in town or on the highway.
Do not agree to anything with Volkswagen until you have consulted a lawyer.
Do not speak with any representative
from Volkswagen directly.
Why Shouldn’t I just go to the Attorney my Family uses for other Legal Matters?
We will be happy to also involve the attorney you normally consult if you wish us to, however, we feel that it is advisable under the circumstances for you to obtain specialized consultation regarding international consumer law for a few reasons:
Because we work closely with attorneys in other jurisdictions, we are not limited to one particular jurisdiction but rather may be able to offer you alternatives that other attorneys might not be aware of.
We work with attorneys and law firms who were among the first to file the Volkswagen diesel emissions class action cases in the United States. Through the US based litigation and its “discovery” process, we expect to be able to obtain evidence that will help us prove cases pursued outside the United States.
Involvement with international counsel might also help with possible settlement of your claim.
Other Types of Cases
In addition to the claims of car owners and shareholders, Volkswagen will likely have to defend other types of claims.
Over the years, Volkswagen has received financial support and tax breaks for the development of “clean diesel” cars but now that the emissions fraud has been discovered, the financial support and tax breaks are being questioned, which will undoubtedly lead to litigation on behalf of local and regional governments.
Dealerships that apparently sold the vehicles to customers without knowledge of the fraud are now struggling with trying to sell Volkswagens with the brand’s trustworthiness and reliability in question, leading to substantial losses.
States in the United States have filed lawsuits against Volkswagen for environmental damage. Other governmental entities will follow.
Please contact us directly for legal consultation regarding other bases for potential claims against Volkswagen and related companies.
CONTACT US NOW
By completing the contact form, you will be notifying us that you wish to receive additional information about your rights as the owner of an affected car with the emissions software “defeat device.” We will contact you shortly via email.