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German court orders VW to pay Golf owner in full

November 23, 2018

The automaker has criticized the ruling, saying car owners "have suffered neither losses nor damages." But the court's judges said VW acted "immorally" by installing emissions-cheating software on millions of vehicles.

Volkswagen symbol
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/P. Pleul

A German court last week ruled that Volkswagen must reimburse a Golf TDI owner the entirety of the car's original price of nearly €30,000 ($34,000), a court spokesman confirmed on Friday.

The ruling could prove a major blow to VW, which is still reeling from the 2015 'Dieselgate' scandal. The judges said  Volkswagen had acted "immorally" when it installed software on millions of vehicles, including the plaintiff's 2012 Golf, to cheat emissions tests.

VW has paid billions of dollars in the US and Canada to settle fines and claims leveled by regulators and owners respectively in the wake of Dieselgate.

Read more: Hitler and 'his Volkswagen': Tracing the 80-year history of the Beetle

A Matter of Trust

'No legal basis'

VW said in a statement on Friday that it would appeal the ruling in a higher court, arguing that owners have not suffered any setbacks.

"In our opinion, there is no legal basis for customer complaints. Customers have suffered neither losses nor damages," said VW in a statement. "The vehicles are safe and roadworthy."

The Augsburg court's ruling went against prior decisions that allowed VW to repay owners a portion of the original price — after taking into account the vehicle's depreciation over time and with usage.

"The decision of the district court in Augsburg thereby stands in contradiction to multiple decisions of other courts in comparable cases," the automaker added.

VW's shares wobbled in Friday trading as investors noted the news, shedding 1.5 percent at its low point in morning trading. However, the shares later rallied, closing with losses of 0.2 percent for the day.

Read more: VW planning on nationwide diesel cull through trade-ins

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ls/msh (AP, Reuters)