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VW faces new allegations about second cheat device

Lawyers suing VW over car emissions cheat software have been given permission to bring evidence that the fix the company put in place was in fact another cheat device.

Posted on 13 November 2020

After the emissions cheat device was exposed, VW promised to put right affected cars.

However it is now alleged that the fix only made vehicles compliant with emissions limits within a certain air temperature range, meaning that they remain highly polluting for much of the year in the UK.

Now lawyers at Leigh Day and Slater and Gordon, who are leading the cheat device claim in the UK, have been given permission to include the allegation in their case.

After initially contesting the application to add these new allegations, lawyers for VW ultimately agreed to the amendments being made shortly before a hearing on 13 November. The court confirmed the claimants had permission to add the additional allegations at that hearing.

The new evidence has put back the date for the VW trial in the UK. It had been scheduled for March 2022 but has now been rescheduled for January 2023 to allow time for the new evidence to be collected and for the case to be prepared.

Evidence, which emerged during legal action in Austria, suggested cars with updated software designed to bring cheat emission cars in line with legal emissions standards, were only compliant with emissions limits within a narrow “thermal window”, between 15C and 32C.

Beyond that, the range in which the vast majority of car journey in the UK occur, vehicles would revert to unlawful levels of toxic NOx.

In April 2020, UK claimants proved that Volkswagen fitted illegal defeat device software to 1.2 million of its vehicles in UK which detected when the cars were undergoing emissions tests and would temporarily reduce the amount of harmful exhaust gases to pass the test.

While out on the road, these vehicles were pumping out many times the legal limit of potentially lethal Nitrogen Oxide (NOx). 

The carmaker has paid out more than $35 billion in fines and penalties for cheating emissions tests, but has so far refused to compensation customers in the UK despite the Court’s findings.

Leigh Day solicitor Shazia Yamin said:

“VW reassured customers they would provide a solution to fix these cars but all they appear to have  done is replace one problem with another – they have allegedly replaced one impermissible defeat device with another defeat device.
“We argue that the fix that VW have applied actually does not work and does not bring them within EU emissions regulations. Now the court has allowed us to amend our pleadings because this is a very important issue – there is continuing impact on the environment and our clients are aggrieved.”