Since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that Volkswagen used “defeat device” software in its diesel-powered vehicles to cheat emission tests, there have been nearly 100 federal lawsuits filed against the German automaker.
What’s the problem?
September 26, 2015 – Most of the lawsuits have been filed by car owners who argue the value of their vehicles has been hurt by Volkswagen’s deception. The complaints seek class action status, and could render verdicts in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Another lawsuit has been filed on behalf of VW’s shareholders in the U.S. The company’s stock has dropped more than 30% since the EPA first alleged the automaker was cheating on September 18. Volkswagen has since admitted that the defeat device software in its diesel vehicles allowed them to pass emission tests even though they were emitting 10 to 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide (NOx) when they were on the road.
VW’s stock has declined sharply in Germany was well. Regulators in that country are investigating whether the company should have revealed information sooner about the emission problems. On September 22, Volkswagen announced that the cheat software was installed in 11 million cars worldwide, and that it had set aside $7.3 billion to pay for the crisis. The EPA said VW could face fines of up to $18 billion for violating the Clean Air Act.
Additional lawsuits may be filed on behalf of Volkswagen dealers seeking compensation for lost inventory value, as well as damage to their reputation that could affect future sales. The dealerships are independent businesses that aren’t owned by Volkswagen; however, convincing dealers to join a lawsuit against their automaker may be difficult since a dealer’s relationship with the company is important for business.