EU court advisor believes Volkswagen is using emissions 'defeat devices'

Six years on, the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal continues with an EU court deciding whether emissions defeat devices are still be used.

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Derek Fung
Derek Fung

The Dieselgate saga continues to rumble on, and there could be more trouble on the horizon with a European ruling due in the next few months.

According to Autocar, Athanasios Rantos, an Advocate General to Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), has said Volkswagen exhaust systems in three cases before the court feature emissions defeat devices.

CJEU Advocates General assist the court by delivering unbiased legal advice to judges to help them make decisions on cases.

The three cases were brought forward by a group of Volkswagen owners from Austria. The cars in these cases switched off their exhaust cleaning systems at altitudes higher than 1000m, or when the ambient temperature was below 15 degress Celsius or above 35 degrees Celsius.

Under an earlier ruling, any software designed to “improve the performance of the emission control system” for regulatory approval is deemed to be an illegal defeat device.

There is a provision allowing such devices to operate if they’re designed to protect “the engine against damage or accident and for safe operation of the vehicle”.

Given the Volkswagen system is built into the exhaust gas recirculation valve, Rantos argues it provides no protection to the engine.

Additionally Rantos believes the system disables itself in many real-world situations in Austria, where the temperature is often below 15 degrees and many places are above 1000m.

In a statement to Autocar, Volkswagen believes the “thermal windows used in Volkswagen Group vehicles remain permissible” and says their purpose “is to prevent sudden and immediate risks of damage to the engine”.

It’s unknown when the CJEU will make its ruling these cases, but a decision may take months.

So far the Dieselgate saga has cost Volkswagen roughly $50 billion in fines and damages since 2015.

The cars in the Austrian case have not been named, and it’s unclear how many vehicles could be affected.

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Derek Fung
Derek Fung
Derek Fung is a Journalist at CarExpert.
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