The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) has launched legal proceedings in the Federal Court against German carmaker Audi AG, its Australian subsidiary Audi Australia Pty Ltd, and their German parent company, Volkswagen AG over the long-running Dieselgate saga.
This latest court action is in addition to proceedings launched against Volkswagen Australia by the ACCC last year.
The ACCC issued a statement yesterday where it alleges “that Audi AG and Audi Australia engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, made false or misleading representations and engaged in conduct liable to mislead the public in relation to certain diesel vehicle emission claims, and that Volkswagen AG was knowingly concerned in this conduct.”
The ACCC alleges that between 2011 and 2015, Audi knowingly misled the buying public by failing to disclose it had used “defeat” devices during laboratory testing in order to produce a lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission reading than under normal driving conditions.
Further, the ACCC alleges Audi misled consumers by claiming vehicles complied will all applicable regulatory requirements in Australia. In addition, the ACCC action alleges Audi Australia marketed affected vehicles in Australia as being environmentally friendly due to producing lower emissions and adhering to strict European standards which, it alleges, was not the case under normal driving conditions.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement, “Consumers expect that there is some relationship between the performance of the car as set out in the sales brochure and their day to day on-road use. We allege that the installation of software which allows the vehicle to meet testing standards but then causes the vehicles to operate differently on the road, and associated representations about the vehicle and its performance, breach the Australian Consumer Law.”
The commission is not holding back in its Federal Court actions, seeking declarations, penalties, corrective advertising, orders relating to the future use of findings and costs.
In a statement issued by Audi Australia today, the company said the ACCC’s action did not provide “any practical benefits to consumers as the approved technical measures for the vast majority of cars affected by the voluntary recall are either already available or are imminent.”
Further, Audi Australia revealed it had already received approval from the Federal Government for the majority of the vehicles affected by Audi’s voluntary recall. These include A1, A3, A4, A5, A6, TT, Q3 and some Q5 models built between 2011 and 2015. The affected vehicles have been extensively tested and conform to all relevant Australian standards.
Audi revealed it has already contacted 10,000 owners of affected vehicles to arrange a technical update. The update takes 45 minutes and is free of charge.
Audi also stated it is reviewing the claims by the ACCC while also defending a class action brought by private plaintiffs in the Federal Court of Australia.
The ACCC revealed Skoda vehicles were also affected by the diesel emissions issue but that it had decided not to pursue the matter further due to low vehicle sales in Australia and continuing class actions seeking damages for affected buyers.
The Audi vehicles affected are:
A1 3 Door – 2011 to 2013
A1 Sportback – 2012 to 2015
A3 Sportback – 2011 to 2013
A4 Allroad – 2012 to 2015
A4 Avant – 2011 to 2015
A4 Sedan – 2011 to 2015
A5 Cabriolet – 2012 to 2015
A5 Coupe – 2012 to 2015
A5 Sportback – 2012 to 2015
A6 Avant – 2012 to 2015
A6 Sedan – 2011 to 2015
Q3 SUV – 2012 to 2015
Q5 SUV – 2011 to 2015
TT Coupe – 2011 to 2014
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