Auto giant Volkswagen said on Thursday that it was in initial talks to offer a settlement in a mass lawsuit brought against the companyby German diesel car owners. About 400,000 customers have joined the suit over the ‘Dieselgate’ emissions cheating scandal that came to light in 2015.
“Volkswagen and the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV) have agreed to enter into discussions regarding a possible settlement,” the firm said in a statement.
When a judge in the city of Braunschweig opened proceedings in the case in September, it was his suggestion that the two sides first try to arrange a settlement.
The Braunschweig cases involves not only Volkswagen vehicles, but those from subsidiaries such as Audi, Seat, and Skoda.
Justice slow to arrive in Germany
‘Dieselgate’ has cost the company over €30 billion ($33.6 billion), much of that going to fines and customer compensation in the United States, where the scandal broke. Thus far, Volkswagen has faced much milder consequences in Europe and its home base of Germany.
Despite a new regulation allowing mass lawsuits in reponse to the crisis, the German justice system has moved so slowly in the case that consumers have had to wait years fo compensation for vehicles outfitted with the cheating software at the center of the scandal.
For years, there had been rumblings in Europe that there were discrepancies between emissions tests and realities. In 2014 and 2015, US-based researchers were able to show that many of Volkswagen’s diesel cars were outfitted with software that showed by emissions results on tests than the cars were actually achieving.
Despite initial denials from top executives at Volkswagen, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that the top brass at the company had known about it for years.
In May 2018, former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn was indicted on conspiracy and fraud charges, though he has consistently denied knowing about the rigged software. In the US, Volkswagen pled guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice, a total of 6 executives were charged.
es/aw (AFP, AP)