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FTC sues Volkswagen for cheating consumers with illegal emission devices

ABR Staff Writer Published 30 March 2016

US consumer watchdog the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen for deceiving consumers with illegal devices in its cars.

FTC said the German carmaker had carried out false advertising campaign to promote its "clean diesel" VWs and Audis, which were fitted with illegal emission "cheat" devices that masked high emissions during government tests.

In a complaint filed in federal court, FTC has sought compensation for customers who bought or leased Volkswagen vehicles between late 2008 and late 2015.

During that period, Volkswagen is estimated to have sold or leased over 550,000 diesel cars on false claims of low emissions and high resale value. The average price of the cars sold was pegged at nearly $28,000.

FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez said: "For years Volkswagen's ads touted the company's 'Clean Diesel' cars even though it now appears Volkswagen rigged the cars with devices designed to defeat emissions tests.

"Our lawsuit seeks compensation for the consumers who bought affected cars based on Volkswagen's deceptive and unfair practices."

The watchdog said that Volkswagen often targeted "environmentally-conscious" consumers by undertaking a high-profile marketing campaign that included Super Bowl ads, online social media campaigns, and print advertising.

Volkswagen repeatedly claimed that its "Clean Diesel" vehicles have low emissions, including that they reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions by 90 percent and have fewer such emissions than gasoline cars.

But the FTC complaint said that the nitrogen emissions from Volkswagen's vehicles are 4,000% more than the legal limit.

Volkswagen TDI diesel models of Jettas, Passats, and Touareg SUVs, and TDI Audi models that were sold from 2009 through 2015 are affected by its false claims.

In another setback to the scandal-hit Volkswagen, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found a glitch in the batteries of the company's electric cars. The fault could make the cars stop while travelling.

The development has forced Volkswagen to recall all the electric models of its Golf compacts sold in the US, Fortune reported.