Today, global claimant law firm Hausfeld wrote to the Board of Volkswagen AG on behalf of a coalition of consumers and law firms throughout Germany and the European Union.  Hausfeld’s letter is the first step in a process which seeks to bring the emissions scandal to an early and joint satisfactory closure for European consumers. Accompanying this letter, Hausfeld included an economic report that addresses the damages European consumers have suffered and an engineering report that discusses VW’s defeat devices and potential fixes. The letter and reports can be obtained at the following website:

Hausfeld Chairman Michael D. Hausfeld and Managing Partner of Hausfeld Rechtsanwälte Christopher Rother requested a meeting with the VW Board to take place within the next two weeks in order to hold VW to its commitment “not to rest” until it resolves its diesel scandal once and for all to the satisfaction of all its customers.  Hausfeld also seeks to prevent the further degradation of air quality and the threat to human life in the areas where the manipulated vehicles are still being operated.

In September 2015, the emissions scandal first became public, following the issue of a Notice of Violation by the US Environmental Protection Agency against several of the VW Group companies in relation to models produced between 2009 and 2015. It is estimated that 11 million vehicles worldwide had these so-called ‘defeat devices’ – software specifically designed to circumvent emissions test procedures – installed. Volkswagen executives at the highest level of the company were aware of these emissions violations and these individuals authorised concealment through the use of a sophisticated software code that understood when an engine was being subjected to an emissions test. The software then altered engine settings to allow the vehicle to pass the emissions test. Thereafter, the engine would revert to normal settings for real-world driving conditions. 

Although Volkswagen has committed to a “goodwill” compensation scheme for consumers in the United States, offering up to $1000 per vehicle to affected owners, the company’s position has been to deny any such offer to its European customers.

Commenting on the Volkswagen scandal, Michael Hausfeld, said:

“Apparently, Volkswagen was obsessed with replacing Toyota as the world’s largest carmaker. In the early 2000s, its inventory wasn’t producing the sales necessary to overtake Toyota’s volume, however.  VW needed to create a new model that wasn’t presently available in other brands or its own line up that would capture the attention and imagination of the market.  In order to reach its goal, VW directed its engineers to solve the problem. Their answer was to make the diesel vehicle its engine of growth. 

Not content with any ordinary diesel, VW developed what it marketed as a “clean diesel” – the world’s first and only emission pure, clean, fast, quiet, and fuel efficient diesel engine.  VW engineers were believed to have brilliantly combined and balanced these four technological feats to seize the market.  It did, but at a price.  VW’s achievement was an illusion and grand deception enabled by the insertion of a device which cheated emissions testing around the world and falsely propped the vehicles’ attributes.  

Eleven million VW “clean diesels” worldwide were “green” in the laboratory, but “stinkers” on the road, emitting vast quantities of nitrogen oxide under real world driving conditions. The concept was a sham.”

Volkswagen’s installation of a simple software fix does not appear to constitute a satisfactory or permanent solution for affected car-owners.  Hausfeld’s initial analysis of the impact of the proposed software changes will likely lead to higher fuel consumption, reduced performance of VW engines and/or reduction of the lifespan of the exhaust treatment components.

Alongside the serious impact on public health the installation of defeat devices has caused, individual and commercial owners of a wide range of Volkswagen vehicles - including Audi, Skoda and Seat among other - will bear the burden of increased running costs, reduced performance and loss of capital value of their cars.

Christopher Rother, Managing Partner of Hausfeld Rechtsanwälte, stated:

“VW’s present European strategy is incomplete and insufficient.  There is no reason why European consumers should be treated any differently than those in the United States.  We urge Volkswagen to come to the table to discuss a satisfactory resolution.”