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VW installed ‘defeat devices’ to subvert emissions tests, UK high court finds

Judge makes major ruling in mass ‘dieselgate’ litigation against VW in England and Wales

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Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

The car manufacturer Volkswagen subverted key air pollution tests, a British court has found, by using special software to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides under test conditions.

The high court finding is a boost to attempts by campaigners to force the company to address the impact of its cars in producing lung-damaging pollutants at far higher levels than were legally permissible.

A group of about 91,000 claimants is taking Volkswagen to court in one of the biggest “class action” cases, or group litigation orders, yet to be heard in England and Wales. Although Volkswagen has been found guilty in the US, in Europe the carmaker has denied that it cheated tests.

The preliminary finding in the case on Monday, by Mr Justice Waksman, casts a fresh light on the activities of the carmaker, first revealed in the “dieselgate” scandal of 2015.

In his summary, the judge wrote: “[After considering the arguments made by Volkswagen] the upshot was that I found that the software function in the vehicles here did indeed amount to a prohibited ‘defeat device’… I also concluded that VW’s attempt to relitigate the issue here was an abuse of the process.”

He said: “A software function which enables a vehicle to pass the test because (artificially) it operates the vehicle in a way which is bound to pass the test and in which it does not operate on the road is a fundamental subversion of the test … it destroys the utility of the test.”

[Source: The Guardian]