Ever since Volkswagen Group confessed last September to cheating diesel emissions tests on an unprecedented scale, reports Automotive News Europe E-Magazine, Europe’s auto industry has scurried to contain the reputational fallout from the public health risk and to deflect criticism from a technology deemed critical to meeting CO2 reduction targets. Facing an uphill battle to preserve support, automakers have rallied around one simple message: The latest Euro 6 diesels into which they have sunk billions of euros are among the cleanest, most efficient around and without them there would be no chance of curbing fleet CO2 emissions. But a cloud of suspicion has descended on the industry that has left automakers struggling to shape the public debate. More red tape, stricter testing regimens and greater scrutiny as a result of the VW Group’s fraud are only the beginning.
US PIRG reports that the House is taking action on HR 1927, The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2015. The bill would in effect wipe out the class action mechanism by requiring all victims to suffer the exact same injury or harm in “type and scope.” For example, if a VW “Defeat Device” reduces the value of a 2011 diesel by $2000 but a 2010 diesel by only $1000, the two owners couldn’t join the same class, even though class actions are really the only way to hold VW accountable to its customers. As Joanne Doroshow of New York Law School’s Center for Justice and Democracy states: “Classes inherently include a range of affected individuals, and virtually never does every member of the class suffer the same scope of injury even from the same wrongdoing. H.R. 1927 will wipe out one of the most important tools for justice in America.” Read PIRGs 70-group letter of opposition sent to the House.
Several European health and environmental groups have written to European leaders saying that in cheating on emission control, Volkswagen has “intentionally misrepresented and manipulated data for years to undercut standards which were put in place to protect our health and the environment.” They urge the European Union to “improve its capacity to protect European citizens from air pollution and the fraudulent behaviour of companies.”