Volkswagen ordered to publish notices about voluntary vehicle recall

Maurice Blackburn

Monday, 11 September, 2017

Volkswagen has been ordered to publish a nationwide notice about information concerning the class actions related to the emissions scandal that is estimated to have impacted around 100,000 motorists across Australia.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) last year instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Germany’s Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft (VWAG) and its Australian subsidiary, Volkswagen Group Australia, alleging they engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to diesel vehicle emission claims. It was alleged that between 2011 and 2015, VWAG installed ‘defeat’ software that caused its vehicles to produce lower nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions when subject to test conditions in a laboratory, but switched to a different mode under normal on-road driving conditions — resulting in significantly higher NOx emissions being produced by the vehicles.

Now, the Federal Court has ordered that notices regarding the scandal be displayed on the VW, Audi and Skoda corporate websites and Australian Facebook pages. Abridged versions of these notices are also to be published in major state and national newspapers, clarifying key issues relating to the voluntary recall being undertaken by the manufacturers.

Maurice Blackburn is representing thousands of affected Australian Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda motorists, and requested Court orders that the notices be issued in part to better inform those unwittingly caught up in the global diesel emissions scandal. Justice Lindsay Foster obliged, saying it was “necessary to put the record straight” on suggestions from Volkswagen that the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (DIRD) had stated the voluntary recall work would have no impact on performance, fuel economy or service intervals of affected vehicles — a statement it had never made.

“A real issue needing clarification for VW, Audi and Skoda customers relates to controversial suggestions about the impact of the proposed voluntary ‘fix’ on the performance, fuel economy and service requirements of the vehicles — these class actions will determine whether these claims are accurate or not,” said Jason Geisker, class action principal at Maurice Blackburn.

“We think it is important for affected motorists to understand that any suggestion that Australian authorities have confirmed that the voluntary recall has no impact on these vehicles is simply not true.”

The notices will reveal that the Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda software update, implemented as part of the recall, does not simply remove the test mode and will in fact affect the manner in which the car engine runs. Specifically, it will:

  • change the fuel injection settings, the number, timing and fuel quantity of injections used;
  • increase the production of particulate matter (soot), which likely will lead to more frequent regeneration of the diesel particulate filter;
  • increase the fuel injection pressure;
  • increase the extent of exhaust gas recirculation into the engine; and
  • in the case of Audi Q5 vehicles equipped with an SCR system, change its operation resulting in the use of a larger amount of AdBlue.

Customers will also be informed that the recall is not compulsory and there will be no impact on existing warranties for those that have decided not to have the recall work performed on their vehicles.

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