Emissions fraud compensation ruling marks black day for Volkswagen - German media
Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemeine / NZZ / Mitteldeutsche Zeitung
Volkswagen lost a key legal battle in the long-running Dieselgate scandal on 25 May when a court ordered that a customer is entitled to compensation for his purchase of a car fitted with emissions-cheating software. Germany’s highest administrative court ruled that the carmaker giant pays plaintiff Herbert Gilbert more than 28,000 euros, just short of the purchase price. The ruling could pave the way for around 60,000 other claimants to return their cars and receive a similar payout, at a potential cost to VW of 1.5 billion euros.
Several German-language newspapers described the verdict as a black day for VW. The Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemeine said it marked a "victory for consumers, with a pensioner defeating a global player." It also questioned whether the authorities, in the form of vehicle testers, turned a blind eye to the illegal fitting of so-called defeat devices.
Switzerland’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung expressed surprise that bosses in senior roles when the crisis broke, such as former head of finance Hans Dieter Pötsch, were still active in the company. “The verdict is a resounding slap in the face for the world's largest automobile manufacturer, especially for the former, but now largely distant, management,” it said.
Meanwhile, the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung said the ruling brought an end to VW’s excuses and praised the Federal Court of Justice for taking VW to task. “Whoever exploits the gaps in regulations so meticulously that the result no longer has any real significance is violating the rules and behaving fraudulently,” it concluded.
US environmental inspectors discovered that Volkswagen had fitted emissions-rigging software to millions of its diesel engines in 2015. The devices lowered emissions during vehicle testing but allowed higher emissions during normal use, resulting in illegal levels of nitrogen oxides being produced. The scandal led to the recall of 8.5 million cars, and has cost the company 31 billion euros. It still made a profit of 17 billion euros last year.