Volkswagen Faces Recall of Millions of Diesels after Court Battle Loss


Last month, carmaker Volkswagen went to court to face a lawsuit that environmental NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe brought against the German Federal Motor Transport Authority or KBA. The case’s focus was VW’s Golf vehicles that allegedly used illegal devices to control emissions. The DUH claimed that the carmaker’s recirculation software for exhaust gas violates emissions regulations.

According to the NGO, the KBA shouldn’t have allowed the affected vehicles to be placed in the market and sold. The software, they said, is a softer, subtler version of the defeat device that the carmaker used when the Dieselgate scandal first broke out in 2015.

Since the court’s decision favoured the DUH, Volkswagen may have to recall millions of their Golf diesels as the ruling revokes the KBA’s release of the vehicles. While a spokesperson from the court believed the case was successful, a VW representative remains confident that they can appeal the decision. The carmaker believes the software is necessary for preventing accidents and damage as it reduces engine risks. Selling the vehicles without the software would be wrong.

Nevertheless, the DUH will continue to file cases against the transport authority as Volkswagen has other diesel vehicle models that are allegedly equipped with defeat devices. A total of approximately 10 million affected vehicles, including those from other brands, that received authorisation and approval from the KBA should be removed from the streets or retrofitted with emission-compliant engines.

The DUH set their case in motion after the European Court of Justice gave environmental groups the authority to take appropriate action against vehicle approvals by the European Union using the DUH lawsuit as a basis.

In 2017, the DUH filed the lawsuit at the Schleswig administrative court but their case was rejected.

What did US authorities find in VW vehicles in 2015?

US authorities allegedly found illegal defeat devices in Volkswagen and Audi diesel vehicles in September 2015. These devices are used to detect when a vehicle is in testing so they can temporarily lower emissions to levels that are within the World Health Organization’s (WHO) mandated limits. As such, regulators see a vehicle that’s safe and emissions-compliant.

The truth, however, is that defeat device-equipped vehicles are safe and clean only during testing. Once they are brought out on real roads for real-life driving, they emit massive amounts of nitrogen oxides or NOx, a group of gases that can destroy lives and the environment. Thus, the vehicles are dangerous pollutants.

The California Air Resources Board and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered the Volkswagen Group to recall over 400,000 affected vehicles that were sold to US drivers. Models that were fitted with the illegal software included VW’s Passat, Golf, Beetle, Jetta, and Audi A3.

Volkswagen admitted the accusations and revealed that over 11 million diesel vehicles were affected across the world, with eight million located in Europe.

Other carmakers were soon implicated in the scandal, including German carmakers BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

What makes defeat devices dangerous?

As mentioned earlier, defeat devices emit nitrogen oxides or NOx. This group of gases has nitrogen dioxide or NO2 and nitric oxide or NO as primary components – both are dangerous to the environment and humans.

When NOx mixes with other elements, it can produce acid rain and smog. It is also capable of forming ground-level ozone, which is a pollutant that causes crops and plants to become more susceptible to the effects of extreme weather.

NOx emissions also affect a person’s mental health. Regular exposure to the pollutant can trigger episodes of anxiety and depression.

Cognitive health is affected as well. If a person is exposed to NOx, their cognitive abilities will weaken over time and they can develop dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s disease.

These impacts are just the tip of the iceberg, though, as there are far more serious effects. Asthma, breathing difficulties, respiratory problems such as emphysema and bronchitis, and pulmonary oedema are the most common health impacts; there are serious, life-threatening ones. These are:

  • Certain cancers
  • Chronic reduction of lung function
  • Laryngospasm or vocal cords spasm
  • Asphyxiation
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Premature death

Over the years, several studies and reports have validated the fact that nitrogen oxides, and air pollution in general, can lead to early death even in those who were previously fit and healthy. Air pollution is currently considered the leading cause of premature death with thousands upon thousands of lives ending every year across the world.

Along with the lies that Volkswagen and other manufacturers involved in the diesel emissions scandal told their customers, these health impacts are the reasons why authorities and industry experts are urging affected drivers to take legal action. Filing a diesel claim is the best thing to do as it allows affected drivers to receive compensation for their losses and inconveniences because of the defeat devices.

How do I know that my diesel claim is valid?

Since not all Volkswagen diesel vehicles are affected by defeat devices, the first thing you should do if you are planning to file a diesel claim is to check if you are eligible to receive compensation. It’s easy as all you have to do is visit, and you’ll find all the details you need to determine your next step.

Working with an emissions expert is your best option if you want a higher chance of winning your emission claim.

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