Email updates were sent out today from firms Bannister Law and Maurice Blackburn, which are undertaking ‘no win, no fee’ open class action suits against the German car-maker, including the Audi and Skoda divisions.
The court date this week follows last week’s $20b settlement between the VW Group and US authorities (including vehicle buyback provisions) and Volkswagen Australia’s subsequent strongly-worded response.
The class action lawsuits are seeking to force VW’s hand or yield a settlement out of court.
The return to court this week follows several earlier appearances as part of the ongoing case regarding Australian-market vehicles.
In April 2016, the Federal Court ordered Volkswagen to produce a technical document describing the emissions control system in affected vehicles, and for the parties’ experts to confer to “narrow the issues”.
This Australian conferral meeting took place between June 8 and 10.
Justice Foster, who is hearing the case in Australia, has previously taken a hard line against Volkswagen during the case over the time frame in which it was providing information, expressing evident frustration.
Volkswagen Australia, Audi Australia and Skoda Australia have recalled EA189-engined vehicles fitted with defeat devices, totalling close to 100,000 units.
The recall of the first scheduled model – the Amarok ute – is underway. A schedule for next series affected models is before the Department of Industry and Regional Development.
Following the recent US settlement, Europe’s Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska called on Volkswagen to also compensate European owners of its diesel-powered cars, saying it would be unfair for them to be treated differently (Reuters).
Volkswagen Australia managing director Michael Bartsch last week:
“It is regrettable that interested parties ignore the polar differences between emission regulations in the United States and Australia. This only adds to public confusion.
“Regulations governing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions limits for vehicles in the United States are much stricter than those in other parts of the world and the engine variants also differ significantly. European and Australian standards focus on lowering environmentally harmful carbon monoxide emissions and fuel consumption.
“New Volkswagen vehicles on sale in Australia – petrol and diesel – continue easily to meet the prevailing Euro 5 standard for emissions.
“There is no compensation for European customers. The relevant facts and complex legal issues that have played a role in coming to these agreements in the United States are materially different from those in Europe and Australia.
“Volkswagen is committed to resolving the diesel matter for all affected customers around the world quickly and efficiently. We recognise the need to regain their trust and we are doing everything possible to achieve this.”
Angus Francis of Maurice Blackburn this week:
"Disappointingly, Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda refuse to make any offer whatsoever to those Australian consumers with affected diesel vehicles.
"Aside from the Amarok, Australian motorists continue to be left with no approved fix for the affected diesel vehicles.
"Given the admissions already made by Volkswagen and the various public statements apologising for the conduct which followed, the Respondents’ conduct in these class actions to date shows no genuine commitment to regaining the trust and respect of Australian motorists.
"No doubt you will find this as disappointing as we do. We will continue to fight for fair compensation for over 100,000 Australian group members with affected diesel vehicles here in Australia."