No new car for owner of defeat-device Audi

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A regional court in western Germany has ruled that an owner of an Audi A4 with emissions-cheating software is not entitled to give back his vehicle and get a new car from the dealer instead. But he himself is to blame.

When Volkswagen’s large-scale pollution scandal became public last year, a western German owner of an Audi A4 demanded his car dealer make his purchase contract null and void and give him a new car of a model not affected by the carmaker’s emissions-cheating scam.

The dealer saw no reason to comply with the buyer’s wishes, and so the latter took the matter to court. The owner of an Audi A4 Avant S 2.0 TDI had an EA 189 engine under the car’s hood and with it a piece of software and a defeat device capable of manipulating emissions data during testing in the lab.

The plaintiff said he felt deceived by VW and the dealer and wanted a new car without any ifs or buts.

He told the dealer he didn’t want his Audi to be retrofitted with new software, fearing any changes to make the car comply with emissions standards would result in the vehicle being slower and consuming more fuel.

Judges say ‘no’

But a regional court in Düsseldorf ruled Tuesday that the car owner was not entitled to a new car as he’d not set a deadline for the dealer to retrofit his car without any loss in performance or fuel consumption.

The dealer’s lawyer had pointed out all along anyway that Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) had authorized new software for this type of Audi, saying the retrofitting would have no disadvantages for the car owner.

Despite that marginal victory for VW and its car dealers in Germany, Europe’s largest automaker is still reeling from its pollution scandal affecting 11 million diesel cars worldwide.

The very revelation last year slashed Volkswagen’s share price by 40 percent, a drop in market value of 25 billion euros ($28 billion).

The Wolfsburg-based company has set aside billions to settle damage claims and retrofit affected vehicles.

Analysts have estimated the final cost of the scandal at between 20 and 30 billion euros, a steep price tag even for a firm boasting annual sales of around 200 billion euros.

hg/sri (dpa, AFP)