EU lawyer: VW, Porsche car software likely illegal defeat device

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FILED - Raindrops bead on a Volkswagen logo at a VW dealer in the northern German city of Hanover in the file shot from January 12, 2021. Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/dpa
FILED - Raindrops bead on a Volkswagen logo at a VW dealer in the northern German city of Hanover in the file shot from January 12, 2021. Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/dpa

Vehicles sold in Austria made by Volkswagen and subsidiary Porsche were fitted with what appears to be emissions standard-cheating “defeat devices” illegal under EU law, an advisor to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) argued on Thursday.

The three cases – referred jointly to the top EU court by judges in Austria – centre on whether consumers were deceived by the German carmaker over the eco-friendly credentials of the cars they bought that used so-called temperature or thermal window software.

ECJ Advocate General Athanasios Rantos found that using such software to control the exhaust gas recirculation system generally constituted a defeat device banned under EU law, an official press release from the court stated.

In addition, the sale of cars using this software – though not always illegal – will likely be against the terms of the purchase contract because regular customers could be misled, Rantos argued.

The thermal window technology used in the vehicles at hand deactivated the purification of exhaust at outside temperatures and altitudes common for drivers in Austria, the press release continued. This limited the reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions.

Based on the counsel from Rantos, the ECJ will give its final ruling on EU law questions in the coming months. The case will then revert back to Austrian courts for a decision on potential consumer compensation.

The discovery of other defeat devices in 2015 led to an apology from Volkswagen and lawsuits that have already cost the company tens of billions of dollars.

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