The Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal has gone on for years and carmakers implicated in the scam have been paying fines and compensation while also attending to class-action lawsuits and group litigations. Just when you thought that things have quieted down, new manufacturers and claims cases are added to the list.
Just recently, German carmaker Mercedes-Benz was taken to an EU court for a compensation claim case. It was filed by a customer who purchased a used C 220 CDI model that was equipped with a gas recirculation design operating at a limited temperature range. The system allows the vehicle to reduce recirculation when temperatures outside are colder. This results in an increase in NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions. According to the Regensburg court, this is similar to a defeat device.
While the case was ongoing, the Court of Justice of the European Union or CJEU was asked by the German court if EU laws specify whether the customer has the right to demand compensation against their vehicle manufacturer and how compensation should be determined.
Advocate General, Athanasios Rantos, a top European Union court adviser, said that affected car owners should have the right to file a compensation claim against their manufacturer.
In terms of the amount of compensation, Rantos said it should be equivalent to the damage, loss, or inconvenience that the car owner experienced. However, he specified that the method for computing the compensation should be the responsibility of EU members.
Rantos believes it is the court’s duty to ensure the safety and interest of every motor vehicle consumer.
Legal representatives handling claims cases expressed their agreement and called the adviser’s opinion a significant one as it specifically focuses on the erring carmakers’ intentional and negligent behaviour. This will make it easier for authorities to enforce compensation for all affected car owners.
Mercedes-Benz, however, said that the adviser’s opinion wasn’t binding, so their focus is on what the court would do or decide.
Although defeat devices have been around for years, they were thrust into the limelight only in 2015, when the Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal broke.
What was the Dieselgate scandal about?
In September 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Resources Board found defeat devices in Volkswagen diesel vehicles that were sold in American markets.
These devices are programmed to detect when a vehicle is in laboratory testing for emissions compliance. Once the test starts, they artificially reduce emissions levels so that these stay within the limits that the World Health Organization (WHO) sets.
However, when the vehicle is driven in real-world road conditions, the emissions levels go back to their default setting, which means the vehicle releases massive amounts of NOx or nitrogen oxide. The emissions levels exceed EU and WHO regulations at multiple magnitudes.
As such, Volkswagen mis-sold the vehicles and lied to their customers when they marketed their products as safe and environmentally friendly. The German manufacturer initially denied the allegations but eventually admitted that they knowingly installed the cheat devices in their diesel vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz was implicated in the diesel emissions scandal after US car owners decided to file a class-action lawsuit against them for the alleged use of defeat devices in 2016. UK authorities started investigating soon after and in 2017, prosecutors in Germany raided eleven of Daimler’s (Mercedes’ parent company) manufacturing sites in relation to the use of defeat devices.
In 2018 the KBA (German Federal Motor Transport Authority) discovered defeat devices in Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles across Europe. Daimler had to recall more than 700,000 affected vehicles as ordered by the KBA.
UK Mercedes car owners brought a collective case against the German manufacturer in May 2020 and before the end of the year, more car owners were added to the list. To this day, Mercedes and Daimler continue to pay fines and compensation while also facing group litigations for their use of defeat devices.
Aside from VW and Mercedes-Benz, other vehicle manufacturers are also involved in the Dieselgate scandal, including BMW, Renault, Audi, Porsche, and Alfa Romeo. The diesel emissions scandal has spread throughout Europe, the UK, and many other countries across the world.
Diesel vehicles emit NOx or nitrogen oxide, a gas that has nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) as primary components. It helps form acid rain, smog, and ground-level ozone (or bad ozone). It also affects vegetation, particularly plants and crops.
NOx has multiple impacts on human health.
Constant exposure to low levels of nitrogen oxide can cause breathing problems, headaches, respiratory issues, asthma or aggravated asthma, and nausea and vomiting. Exposure to high levels of NOx has more serious impacts, including increased risk for certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases, asphyxiation, laryngospasm, chronically reduced lung function, and early death.
These life-changing impacts are the reason why authorities encourage affected car owners should file a diesel emissions claim against their manufacturer.
How do I file my diesel claim?
This must be the foremost thing in your mind after finding out about your right to emissions claims. It’s easy: All you have to do is work with a panel of emissions solicitors. The ones at ClaimExperts.co.uk are highly trained and experienced, and they have won several claims over the years. They’ll help you through the long and challenging process. Get in touch with them now.