Volkswagen Group today announced that it has reached an out-of-court settlement with a group representing car owners in England and Wales caught up in the Dieselgate scandal.

The German car giant will pay £ 193 million to 91,000 motorists represented by law firms in a class action lawsuit, the largest to be filed in English courts.

Volkswagen will make a separate contribution to cover legal costs and other costs of the plaintiffs.

The case was to be sent to court in January next year.

Today, Volkswagen confirmed that it has reached an out-of-court settlement with UK drivers affected by the scandal with Dieselgate worth £ 193 million.

The group action represents buyers in England and Wales of Volkswagen Group cars – including Audi, Seats and Skoda – with the EA189 diesel engine, which was discovered in September 2015, emits more air-polluting nitrogen dioxide than the company claimed.

The class action lawsuit, which began in 2019, was led by law firms Slater and Gordon, Leigh Day and PGMBM and reached the High Court last December for a five-day hearing.

It was set up after a German carmaker initially refused to pay compensation to owners of affected diesel models in the UK, citing EU law.

Volkswagen’s NOx emission ban was met in 2020 after the High Court ruled that emission testing software installed on diesel cars was designed to deceive emission test modes, making it an illegal “damage device.”

The group action claimed that dealerships misled consumers during the buying process because nitrogen dioxide levels were lowered in the laboratory.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Volkswagen Group said the settlement was an effort

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Volkswagen Group said the settlement was an effort to “restore customer confidence in England and Wales”.

Volkswagen Group, which has already spent around £ 25bn on legal costs, compensation and car buyouts since the Dieselgate scandal, said today that an out-of-court deal with UK drivers is “the smartest way to act in business”. .

What is “Dieselgate” and what are “defeat tools”?

“Dieselgate” began in September 2015 in the United States, when the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that many Volkswagen (VW) cars in America had a so-called “damage device” installed in diesel cars.

Although full details of the devices were not disclosed, the EPA claimed that the cars had software that could sense when the car was being tested.

The device for checking emissions of cars in real situations while driving is attached to the exhaust pipe of the car (photo)

The device for checking emissions of cars in real situations while driving is attached to the exhaust pipe of the car (photo)

They found that under test conditions, the “defeat device” reduced engine power and vehicle performance.

But the EPA claims that when the vehicle was traveling on the road, it was working properly and the engines were emitting nitrogen oxide pollutants up to 40 times above the permissible norm in the US.

Volkswagen later acknowledged that about 11 million cars worldwide, about three-quarters of which are in Europe, were equipped with devices.

Then-VW CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned, and VW launched an internal investigation and recalled about 8.5 million cars across Europe.

“None of the defendants in the class action lawsuit has made any confessions of liability, causation or loss,” the carmaker said in an official statement.

“According to Volkswagen, the legal costs of dealing with this case before the six-month trial in England, and then in respect of any further appeals by either party, were such that a settlement was the most reasonable course of action on the commercial side.”

He added that he did not “participate in the distribution or distribution of the amount of settlements to be” distributed among the applicants in proportions agreed between the various firms of the applicant lawyers and those from whom they receive instructions. “

With legal costs covered by Volkswagen’s separate contribution, each of the 91,000 applicants seems to receive around £ 2,000.

One of the law firms that run the group action told us that they could not disclose the exact amount and could only repeat the official statement of the car giant.

“The Volkswagen Group would like to take this opportunity once again to sincerely apologize to its customers for the dual-mode software installed in the EA189 cars,” the statement said.

“The Volkswagen Group will continue to work to restore the trust of its customers here in England and Wales. This settlement is an important step forward in this process. “

Philip Haarman, CEO of Volkswagen AG, described the scandal as an “event of great regret” and said the settlement was “another important milestone” after him.

Lawyers representing plaintiffs in England and Wales said it was the largest consumer group lawsuit ever heard in English courts.

The group action claimed that dealerships misled consumers during the purchase process because nitrogen dioxide levels were lowered in the laboratory and - in real driving scenarios - emissions were 40 times the NOx limit.

The group action claimed that dealerships misled consumers during the purchase process because nitrogen dioxide levels were lowered in the laboratory and – in real driving scenarios – emissions were 40 times the NOx limit.

David Whitmar, boss of Slater and Gordon, commented: “The settlement avoids the need for a lengthy, complex and costly litigation, and we are pleased to have reached this settlement for our clients as a result of the group’s actions.”

His co-director, Lee Day, represented by Bozhena Mikhalovskaya and Shaziya Yamin, added: “We are glad that Volkswagen has reiterated its sincere apologies for using the banned dual-mode software.

“We are pleased that this case has finally been resolved for our customers and applicants in the NOx emissions lawsuit.

“We are steadfast in our faith in the cause of our clients, so we have fought hard for this result for a long time. We are clearly in the interest of our customers to settle this earlier. ”

Tony Winterburn, partner and head of the consumer lawsuit at PGMBM, who acted on behalf of more than 15,000 contenders, said: “This is a good day for the contenders and is the culmination of five years of difficult litigation.”

PGMBM customer Harash Kint, 37, of Cambridge, who bought an Audi A4 with an EA189 diesel engine, spoke of his relief after the case was finally closed.

“I am glad that in six years VW has settled and now the issue is resolved. This is a good day for all applicants. ”

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