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Tags Current Affairs

Dieselgate scandal

Date: 27 May 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Germany’s Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled against car manufacturer Volkswagen, the first judgment in the diesel scandal. As a result of the ruling, the company must pay compensation to the owner of a vehicle fitted with a “defeat device” meant to bypass a vehicle’s emissions control system.

 

Background

The ruling has set a crucial benchmark for over 60,000 such pending cases brought forward by German consumers seeking compensation over the emissions test devices.

 

Details

  • It was in 2015 that Volkswagen admitted to having installed emissions-cheating devices in its vehicles, which cost the company over $33 billion in vehicle refits and regulatory fines, mostly in the United States.

  • The scandal is often dubbed as the “dieselgate scandal” and Volkswagen has since admitted the device affects over 11 million cars worldwide.

  • The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that in over 590,000 diesel motor vehicles, Volkswagen had violated the Clean Air Act as the vehicles were equipped with “defeat devices” in the form of a computer software, which was designed to cheat on federal emissions tests.

  • It alleged that Volkswagen installed these devices in its 2009-2015 two-litre diesel vehicles, thereby violating EPA’s emissions standards since these vehicles emit 40 times more pollution than the level permitted.

  • Some of the affected vehicles included Jetta (2009-2015), Beetle (2013-2015) and Passat (2012-2015) among others. The major excess pollutant, in this case, were nitrogen oxides.

  • The EPA issued a separate notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to car manufacturers Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen for producing and selling certain model year 2014-2016 three-litre diesel cars and SUVs that included a software device meant to circumvent the emissions standards.

  • Regulatory investigations were carried out against the company in several countries including South Korea, France, Italy, Germany, UK and Canada.

  • The ruling is expected to pave the way for remaining cases pending in Germany as the courts are expected to rule in favour of the plaintiffs.

 

Emission defeat device

A defeat device is one that bypasses or renders inoperative a vehicle’s emission control system. Essentially, software of this kind is designed to detect when the vehicle is undergoing an emissions test and turns on full emissions controls during the testing period. In the course of normal driving, the effectiveness of such devices is reduced.

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