Newly-introduced German class-action legislation has allowed consumers in Germany to bring a lawsuit against Volkswagen in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal.
Reuters reports that vzbv, a Frankfurt-based consumer group, filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen with the aim of determining whether the car maker’s emissions-disguising software had intentionally harmed customers. An alleged 40,000 Volkswagen owners have registered an interest in joining the lawsuit, which Volkswagen claims has no legal basis.
In the US, Volkswagen was forced to compensate all owners of vehicles with the software fitted.
The move comes as owners of vehicles fitted with the EA 189 diesel motor lament the rapid depreciation of their cars, and the limitations posed by new governmental regulations tackling the emission of noxious gases. Vzbv claims that the cars in question are more pollutive, and less efficient, than was advertised at the point of sale.
A Volkswagen spokesperson, however, pointed out that “plaintiffs will be under an obligation to prove that they have suffered actual loss or damage.” This means that length of ownership and vehicle condition will be influential factors with regard to informing a payout decision.
The spokesperson also stated that, despite the new class action laws, any successful case brought against Volkswagen depends on consumers being prepared to "institute individual proceedings claiming a specific amount of damages at their own cost and their own risk".
While it has become easier to form group lawsuits in Germany, the statute of limitations for claiming damages in this instance will expire this year. A subsequent lawsuit will determine what, if any, damages Volkswagen will have to pay.