VW sued over ‘eco friendly’ advertising claims

VW sued over ‘eco friendly’ advertising claims

VW TDI engineThe bad news continues for Volkswagen in the United States after the country’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) moved to sue the German carmaker.

The FTC says the the US arm of VW falsely advertised more than a half million diesel vehicles as environmentally friendly when it knew they were emitting excess pollution.

The FTC filed suit against the wholly owned Volkswagen unit in US District Court in San Francisco. The agency said US consumers suffered “billions of dollars in injury” as a result of deception by VW, which has admitted to using software that allowed 580,000 diesel vehicles built since 2009 to emit up to 40 times legally allowable emissions.

In January, the US Justice Department sued VW for up to US$46 billion ($AUD60.2 billion) for violating environmental laws. VW also faces more than 500 civil lawsuits related to excess emissions, along with suits from some US states. Last week, a federal judge set an April 21 deadline for VW to come up with a concrete remedy for the vehicles.

US Senator Bill Nelson praised the FTC suit and notes: “This was one of the most egregious examples of a company deceiving the public. Hopefully, the court will provide adequate redress to consumers and send a strong message that this type of corporate behavior won’t be tolerated.”

VW spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said the automaker has received the FTC complaint and “continues to cooperate” with all US regulators.

“Our most important priority is to find a solution to the diesel emissions matter,” Ginivan says.

The FTC said VW’s claims “that the cars were low-emission, environmentally friendly, met emissions standards and would maintain a high resale value” were false. It said the vehicles involved sold for an average price of approximately $28,000.

VW promoted its “clean” cars through a marketing campaign that cost tens of millions of dollars including Super Bowl ads, online social media campaigns and print advertising, “often targeting environmentally conscious” consumers.”

The company remains in talks with the US Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resources Board and Justice Department over terms of a settlement.

US District Judge Charles Breyer and lawyers for the government and VW said last Thursday the sides had made “substantial progress” toward a settlement.

A settlement could include vehicle buybacks and cash incentives for repairs, along with environmental funds to address excess emissions. A point of contention is whether California and the EPA will accept a remedy addressing only part of the excess emissions.

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