Dieselgate: Aussie payday but no admissions by Volkswagen

Riley Riley

Four years after Dieselgate hit the headlines across the world, Volkswagen will pay out up to $1.4 million to Australian motorists affected by the diesel emissions scandal.

Volkswagen reveals it has reached a comprehensive in-principle settlement with the class action plaintiffs in Australia.

“This is a significant step towards fully resolving the diesel lawsuits in Australia, subject to approval by the Federal Court of Australia. Volkswagen views the in-principle settlements as a further step towards overcoming the diesel issue,” the company says.

The class action lawsuits filed on behalf of Australian customers relate to approximately 100,000 Australian EA189 vehicles.

If all affected vehicles participate, each of these customers can expect a payment per vehicle of approximately A$1,400 (about EUR 870), on average.

The settlement, on a no-admissions basis, concerns five class-action lawsuits covering all affected vehicles in Australia.

The settlement has to be confirmed by the Federal Court of Australia and a timetable has been set by the Court for the necessary steps to occur.

Volkswagen expects the proceedings will be concluded in 2020.

In separate action, discussions regarding an in-principle settlement of the civil suit by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) are close to finalisation and a resolution between the parties is expected shortly.

The details are confidential at this time.

The diesel scandal dates back to 2015 when the company was accused of cheating on emissions tests by falsifying the results with a software hack.

About 11 million diesel vehicles were affected worldwide.

You might think Volkswagen Australia has got off lightly, given the company has been forced to buy back many affected vehicles in the United States.

There, about 480,000 owners have been given the option of a buyback or free fix and compensation, if a repair becomes available.

Buybacks range in value from $12,475 to $44,176, including restitution payments, and vary based on mileage.

People who opt for a fix approved by the Environmental Protection Agency will receive payouts ranging from $5100 to $9852, depending on the book value of their car.

In spite of this, it has been reported that at one stage only 25 per cent of affected owners have responded to the company’s offers of compensation.

That’s interesting, given Volkswagen’s statement to Australians mentions: “If all affected vehicles participate . . .”

Settlements vary from country to country.

It begs the question: Has the Dieselgate scandal adversely affected the company’s reputation and therefore its ability to sell cars?

Well, In Australia at least, sales are down 11 per cent year on year — from 38,087 to 33,893 vehicles so far — but then sales are down 8 per cent across the industry.

Last year, the company sold 56,600 vehicles here, in 2107, 58,000 and in 2016, 56,500.

In 2015, when it all began, was a record year, with 60,700 sales.

One thing is for sure, diesel has had its day — it’s all about electric cars amd the record-breaking ID.R electric race car now.


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