US judge gives Volkswagen a month to present diesel compliance plan | News | DW | 26.02.2016
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US judge gives Volkswagen a month to present diesel compliance plan

A US federal judge has given VW one month to present its plan on how to bring diesel car emissions into compliance with clean air laws. A class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of VW car owners.

Volkswagen has been given until March 24 to present an acceptable fix to bring nearly 600,000 diesel cars into compliance with clean air laws.

"This is an ongoing problem," United States District Judge Charles Breyer told the car maker at a court hearing in San Francisco on Thursday, adding that he has a "sense of urgency" about seeing a resolution.

VW admitted to using software to emit up to 40 times the legally allowable emissions in vehicles sold since 2009.

Acting for VW, lawyer Robert Giuffra told the court that the company was making progress in reaching a solution through its talks with the US Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.

"We are committed to resolving these matters as quickly as possible," Giuffra said, noting that the issue involves up to 11 million vehicles in 100 countries.

In January, the US Justice Department sued VW for up to $46 billion (41.6 billion euros) for violating US environmental laws.

VW set aside 6.7 billion euros ($7.4 billion) in the third quarter of 2015 to cover repair costs.

VW Skandal Dieselmotor

A VW diesel engine

Breyer said he wants VW to provide details on the technical solutions to fix the cars, and the status of negotiations regarding a potential settlement with affected owners.

There is also an ongoing criminal probe into the company's actions.

Class action suit

A class-action suit on behalf of almost 200 owners of VW, Audi and Porsche diesels equipped with the emission-cheating devices was filed at a court in San Francisco earlier this week.

The case, filed late Monday in the federal district court in San Francisco, accuses Volkswagen AG, its US VW, Porsche and Audi arms, several top company executives and German auto parts giant Bosch of racketeering in "one of the most brazen corporate crimes in history, a cautionary tale about winning at any cost."

The main charge, that of a "fraudulent scheme and conspiracy" to market and sell the cars, makes use of an act originally designed for use in combating organized crime and also alleges fraud, warranty violations and unjust enrichment. "From 2009 to 2015, Volkswagen sold and/or leased approximately 580,000 dirty diesels that its defeat device disguised as clean," the suit says. "In doing so, Volkswagen secretly turned the most environmentally-conscious consumers into some of the biggest polluters on the road, and charged them a premium in the process."

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Cost of VW emissions scandal

The suit also estimated damages to the health of Americans generally from the extra toxic gases in their air at $450 million. No total estimate of penalties was made in the lawsuit but with as many as 580,000 cars potentially represented by the suit, it could run into billions.

Volkswagen has postponed its financial results for 2015 and delayed its annual shareholders' meeting as it continues to calculate exactly how much the emissions scandal will cost it.

jm/jr (Reuters, AP, dpa)

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