back to article Investors to be allowed to sue Volkswagen over emission row

Volkswagen investors are to be allowed to sue the carmaker for almost €4m in damages in the wake of Volkswagen's admission last year that it used "defeat device" software in 11 million cars that allowed it to give false results in tests for nitrogen oxide emissions. The Braunschweig District Court said in a statement (link in …

  1. Zimmer
    Meh

    Legislation?

    In an advancing technological situation Legislation doesn't have a clue about the situation, only what it's told by the 'experts' , but it can sure make a dog's breakfast of whatever it legislates on - the law of unintended consequences etc.. But there will still not be the means/money to monitor the results properly, just like the current situation..

    But politics is politics and 'Es muss etwas geshehen' (I hope I spelt that correctly..it's been nearly 50 years since A- Level Lit)

  2. Ralph B

    While no other manufacturer was using a similar system to Volkswagen's ...

    "While no other manufacturer was caught using a similar system to Volkswagen's (yet) ..."

    FTFY.

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: While no other manufacturer was using a similar system to Volkswagen's ...

      Though to be pedantic, others have been caught doing the same thing in different ways - such as using the GPS to determine if they are in a test facility !

      The thing that needs to be remembered though is that these cars passed the legally mandated tests<period>. I would argue that they didn't actually break any laws, because I doubt they actually claimed anything other than having passed the tests (and using the official consumption figures that also come out from the tests).

      The law (AIUI) is clear - the cars have to be put through a specific cycle under specific conditions, and under those tightly specified conditions, they have to meet certain limits.

      So this is very much like all those "international company isn't paying enough tax" complaints - just that, a complaint but without foundation. If the results are wrong, then look at the process that leads to them - don't complain about people complying with the laws as written down.

      This is different to (say) someone putting legal tyres on a car before it's MOT and then putting bald ones back on afterwards. There is nothing wrong with this in terms of the MoT test - but there is a law against driving with bald tyres. In this case, there isn't actually a law against emitting much more on the road than in the tests.

      But this is just yet another example of unintended consequences. You define the tests, people will work to passing those tests. I fail to see what's so hard to understand about this.

      1. Oengus

        Re: While no other manufacturer was using a similar system to Volkswagen's ...

        You define the tests, people will work to passing those tests.

        This happens in all sorts of circumstances. Most companies (and people) will do exactly what is needed to pass any test/specification they could reasonably expect to be put through... No More, No Less.

    2. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: While no other manufacturer was using a similar system to Volkswagen's ...

      "While no other manufacturer was caught using a similar system to Volkswagen's"

      Don't fall for VAG PR/UK motoring press FUD

      VAG were the only ones at this game trying to sell their inadequate DERV engine tech into the US market.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: While no other manufacturer was using a similar system to Volkswagen's ...

        "VAG were the only ones at this game trying to sell their inadequate DERV engine tech into the US market."

        And yet this story is about VAG selling diesel cars in Europe so obviously they were not just trying to break into a paranoid and protectionist market

    3. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

      Re: While no other manufacturer was using a similar system to Volkswagen's ...

      I have recently bought an Audi. The salesman told me that Audi invented the defeat system and shelved it. VW resurrected the engine management "modification" when the engine design team could not hit the emission standards.

      Of course its true, he also said I was hansom and very intelligent.

      (No particular point to make, just thought I would set up car salesmen for abuse.)

  3. s. pam
    Flame

    UK Owners should be banding together and suing VW

    In the USA, customers are being given the option to hand back their car, or cash + getting car SW fixed.

    Here we're getting S.F.A. and that's just not right!

    1. Zimmer
      Coat

      Re: UK Owners should be banding together and suing VW

      Compensation culture....aaarghhhh

      So, why would you want it fixed if it was saving you, the owner, x% of your fuel costs, and the engine performance was better than a rival's and you are happy with that performance..? Why, when you are not that concerned about your car's emissions in the grand scheme of things - particularly if you are following an old Peugeot 308 1.9 diesel taxed at 10x the rate of your new 2 litre VW- would you feel you needed it fixed.

      Do you not also realise there are people who go to great lengths to get their engine ECU re-mapped for whatever esoteric reason (mainly on high performance cars) ?

      What would you need compensating for? There could be one reason only: tax, or lack of it at present. If there is a knock-on effect for these vehicles it could be retrospective re-allocation of the VED band or company vehicle taxation in the UK.

      The amounts of which would seem pretty paltry in the eyes of the turbo-chasing lawyers....

      Yours sincerely

      J Clarks... oops!

      ps as I still own a 2007 Turbo-diesel Fabia, can I claim compensation???

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

        Re: UK Owners should be banding together and suing VW

        A friend has a 2-3 year old Diesel Skoda. He has recently received a very carefully written letter from the dealer asking him to take the car in for modification. No admission and clearly Skoda believe (or say they believe) that retail value is not affected.

        As I told my friend, that's crap. If I was in the market for a second hand Skoda I would be discounting the price substantially. My concern would be long term reliability. The only reasonable assumption is that fuel use would be reduced, thereby reducing emissions. An excessively lean burn is a hot burn and can cause problems (at least in petrol engines - I assume Diesels are the same). Also, if I want a discount I expect the same when I sell it on.

        1. SirTainleyBarking

          Re: UK Owners should be banding together and suing VW

          Running "lean" on a diesel would mean reduced power. Diesels run lean by design and are made with knock in mind

  4. Sureo

    "required to make disclosures of their engine software"

    They're going to have to hire engineers to study the code and the design of the car to understand it properly. They're going to have to verify that the code they're studying is actually what is running in the cars sold. Every code change will have to be resubmitted and studied again. The cars will have to be tested to verify. 100s of makes/models. What could possibly go wrong?

    1. elwe

      Re: "required to make disclosures of their engine software"

      Make them release the source and source of the toolchain needed to build publically (though not necessarily under GPL/BSD license) and the tinkerers will spot if it results in a significantly different build. Or part of the test can be to build from sources, apply and test.

      The tinkerers will also tend to spot emissions defeat code, unless it is very well obfuscated.

      1. annodomini2

        Re: "required to make disclosures of their engine software"

        At which point all the Tier 1 suppliers will start legal action.

        1. PNGuinn
          Go

          Re: "At which point all the Tier 1 suppliers will start legal action."

          POPCORN!

          That is all.

  5. M7S

    And the point of suing is??

    If the investors sue for "loss" then presumably they'd be paid pro-rata depending on their shareholding.

    If all the investors sue individually and were treated relatively equitably, or joined some form of class action (I don't know if there is such a thing in German law) then I assume that they would all end up with a similar amount per share, reducing the value of the company by the same amount (relatively) per share and thus other than being an unexpected "dividend payout" (and perhaps being taxed differently, being compensation rather than income) there's no real gain. The only people likely to benefit are the lawyers, and yes I realised that was the likely answer I'll get in reply before I even started typing.

    Surely a better solution is the shareholders vote out whoever on the board is responsible, or ensure that the correct staff lower down the food chain are removed from their positions.

    Enlightening views welcomed.

  6. frank ly
    Coat

    Wrong target

    Shouldn't they be suing those two rogue engineers who did all the fiddling and sneakily hid their nefarious deeds from management for many years?

    1. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

      Re: Wrong target

      Didn't you know that they moved on to TalkTalk?

  7. Croc O'Dial

    Don't make me laugh...

    "UK Owners should be banding together and suing VW"

    Get real. The Americans can do it because they are (as a nation) independent from VW (as a company). VW is a German company whose interests are served by Angela Merkel who in turn yields total authority in how the EU is run and financed. The German government will not permit VW to be sued in a class action style lawsuit like the US can do. Any attempt to punish VW will be resisted within the EU. It will not damage the Eurozone because that is controlled by Germany and France and is artificially managed and manipulated by the ECB whose president, Mario Draghi, is essentially a puppet for Germany and France. Financial punishments for VW within the EU will be for window-dressing functions only. Don't expect any compensation from VW. The EU will not sanction it.

    1. Oengus
      Joke

      Re: Don't make me laugh...

      So invoke Brexit, leave the EU, then sue...

  8. rmstock

    They shoot horses don't they ?

    "They shoot horses don't they ?" a film/song title from the same folk whose lawyers, after watching, claim no animals were hurt or killed in the process. The same lawyers are now aiming at German car manufactures, because the Germans are most certainly not in the same category as horses or animals. No manufacturer should be pressured at legal- or gun-point to handover its software code. Apple has had its share of the Federal Mafiosi treatment, under the cover story of an Islamic terrorist using an iPhone, and now VW is threatened by the same Federal Marshall's, that an open hunt season will soon be started under the cover story that CO2 emissions are bad for the environment, and hence all engines software must be handed over to the US Federal Mafiosi. Sorry folks , No Dice here i would tell these legal entrepreneurial hunters if I were the CEO of Volkswagen GmbH.

    1. rmstock

      Re: They shoot horses don't they ?

      "and hence all engines software must be handed over to the US Federal Mafiosi. " .. I sure hope "The Pay to Play" Clinton Foundation is not involved with these new prosecutorial guidelines from the DOJ run by Att.Gen. Loretta Lynch.

    2. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

      Re: They shoot horses don't they ?

      They shoot horses don't they? - a film about depression era dance marathons. The lawyers' claim may well be true?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022