Volkswagen enters legal settlement talks with German drivers over emissions scandal

Volkswagen and German consumer group VZBV have agreed to settlement talks in a court case involving hundreds of thousands of drivers who claim that their diesel cars lost value in the wake of the emission-cheating scandal. VW and VZBV disclosed their decision in separate but identical statements. 

“The common goal of VZBV and Volkswagen is a pragmatic solution for the benefit of the customer,” the two parties involved in the group action said. “The discussions are at a very early stage, and there is no guarantee that they will result in a settlement.”  

The move came after the judges in the German court case had urged the two sides in November to consider talks and to let the court know by the end of 2019 whether they are ready to negotiate. The discussions should remain confidential, the judges said.

VW is facing a wave of litigation in Germany and elsewhere by drivers who want their money back for what they say is a loss of value in their diesel cars because of the software manipulation exposed by US regulator in September 2015. The carmaker admitted to using manipulated engine management software to mask excessive pollution levels.

More than 400,000 drivers signed up for the German test case, filed under a new law introduced in the wake of the scandal. The diesel-emission scandal haunted VW since it admitted more than four years ago that it used the software in 11 million diesel vehicles. The toll has so far reached €30bn in fines and other expenses for the firm. 

German consumers have had less success than vehicle owners in the United States in securing compensation from VW because German cars did not lose their road-worthiness certification in the wake of the diesel scandal.

In Germany VW’s diesel vehicles retained their road-worthiness certification if customers agreed to an update of vehicle engine management software, leading VW to take a different approach to compensating consumers.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Hyundai and affiliate Kia Motors turned in their lowest sales in seven years in 2019 as business in China slumped, missing their target for a fifth straight time, but forecast better numbers for 2020. Hyundai and Kia, however, said they expect combined sales to rise 5% to 7.54 million vehicles this year. Bloomberg and Reuters

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