Volkswagen is facing what it looks like to be a long and expensive legal battle, all to do with Dieselgate. Over 400,000 people in Germany have joined the country’s first ever class action lawsuit.
The claimants say Volkswagen deliberately harmed consumers by installing emissions cheating software in millions of its diesel vehicles, allowing them to pollute more than was legal.
The case is likely to grind on for years and could make it harder for the carmaker to turn the page on a scandal that has damaged both its bottom line and its brand.
It may be four years since the Dieselgate scandal erupted, but German automaker Volkswagen is still paying the price today.
It emerged in 2015, that the company had installed software to reduce emissions in lab tests, since then Volkswagen has had to shell out tens of billions of Euros in damage control, compensation buy backs, and investments into the group’s new strategy.
Overall, the company has spend some 30 billion Euros in fines and compensation to owners and dealers. The majority after pleading guilty to a US criminal case in March 2017. There have also been large settlements in Australia and Canada.
The automaker have been forced to dive more quickly into electric vehicles in order to shed its image of a heavy polluter.
Last summer, Volkswagen aired a one minute and 45 second ad during NBA finals in the United States, highlighting its push for vehicles powered by green energy, and claiming that in the darkness of the scandal, the company found the light. The ad finished with this message: “In the darkness, we found the light. Introducing a new era of electric driving.”
But the company’s image is still far from what it once was, while the customers in Europe have regained trust in the German automaker, US sales have yet to return to pre-crisis levels.