In a decision handed down on Thursday, Germany’s Federal Court of Justice found that owners of Volkswagen vehicles fitted with emissions-cheating software should receive lower compensation — or none at all — if their car has high mileage.
The ruling means the plaintiff, the driver of a VW Passat model that had racked up 255,000 kilometers (158,000 miles), will go home empty-handed. The verdict upholds an earlier finding by a lower court.
Judges also ruled that Volkswagen would not have to pay tort interest on the purchase price of a car in cases where compensation is granted.
In a landmark decision on May 25, the high court concluded that the German carmaker had knowingly deceived customers and that those who had purchased manipulated VW vehicles were entitled to damages.
But a number of issues were left open — such as whether compensation should still go to customers who bought their car after 2015, or those who had taken up the company’s offer of a software update to fix the emissions-rigging problem.
Judges were still expected to deliver verdicts on those two questions later on Thursday.
What is the Volkswagen scandal?
The emissions-cheating scandal, dubbed “dieselgate,” has dogged Volkswagen since 2015. In September of that year, the carmaker admitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency that it had installed software in 11 million vehicles worldwide that allowed it to cheat on emissions tests. Scientists had uncovered software installed in VW vehicles that could detect emissions test scenarios and change the vehicle’s performance accordingly so that motors appeared to spew fewer harmful pollutants.
The scandal led to a crisis in confidence for the entire automobile industry after similar workarounds were later discovered at other companies. VW has been tied up in litigation ever since.
In April, the company agreed to pay up to €830 million ($950.7 million) in damages to 235,000 car owners in Germany to avoid a class-action suit. However, tens of thousands of customers didn’t agree to the deal.
nm/sms (AFP, dpa)
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