VW, German consumer group in settlement talks over diesel scandal

VOLKSWAGEN (VW) on Thursday said it was in talks to discuss a settlement with German vehicle owners who are suing the carmaker over excessive pollution caused by VW’s diesel cars.

In 2015 the carmaker admitted to using manipulated engine management software to mask excessive pollution levels in its diesel cars, sparking a raft of prosecutions and lawsuits that have led to at least 30 billion euros in legal costs and fines.

The case was brought by the Federation of German Consumer Organisations on behalf of more than 400 000 diesel owners. It uses rules enacted in Germany in 2018 that allow a form of class-action suit.

“Volkswagen and the Federation of German Consumer Organisations have agreed to enter into discussions regarding a possible settlement,” the carmaker said.

“The discussions are at a very early stage, and there is no guarantee that they will result in a settlement. Both parties have agreed that the discussions should remain confidential.”

German consumers have had less success than vehicle owners in the United States in securing compensation from VW because German cars did not lose their road worthiness certification in the wake of the diesel scandal.

In Germany VW’s diesel vehicles retained their road worthiness certification if customers agreed to an update of vehicle engine management software, leading VW to take a different approach to compensating consumers.

The proceedings encompass cars made by the Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda brands fitted with EA 189 diesel engines that were bought after 1 November 2008 and later affected by a recall.

The talks are meant to establish only whether the company acted illegally. If the court decides that that was the case, customers would then have to seek compensation in separate proceedings.