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Volkswagen faces lawsuits over VW and Audi diesel emissions scandal

Last week, Volkswagen admitted that the company’s diesel-powered vehicles used software that was designed to hide the cars’ high pollution levels during emissions testing. After researchers discovered that Volkswagen’s so-called “clean diesel” engines emitted levels of nitrogen oxide that were 40 times the level allowed by U.S. environmental laws, the German-automaker was forced to admit under pressure from the EPA that the discrepancy between real world and laboratory pollution measurements was part of a fraudulent effort to conceal the poor performance of its diesel engines.

Many consumers who purchased Volkswagen diesel-powered vehicles—including Golf, Passat, Jetta, Beetle, and some Audi models—chose those vehicles because they seemed to offer a unique combination of driving performance, environmental friendliness and high gas mileage.  In the wake of Volkswagen’s admission that its diesel engines create significantly higher levels of pollution than those allowed under federal law, many drivers who purchased the company’s “clean diesel” vehicles are wondering whether they may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the company over its efforts to mislead the public about the environmental friendliness of its vehicles.  They are also concerned that the possible “fix” for the emissions problem will result in a loss of performance and a decrease in gas mileage.

In less than a week since Volkswagen announced that it would recall diesel-powered vehicles in the U.S., the company has been hit with class action lawsuits filed in Florida, Oregon, Illinois, Utah, Washington, and California. These lawsuits, filed on behalf of plaintiffs in dozens of states, allege that drivers who purchased Volkswagen diesel vehicles paid between $1,000 and $7,000 more for “clean diesel” vehicles that they thought offered a unique combination of driving performance, good gas mileage and environmental friendliness. Attorneys for the plaintiffs in these cases say that Volkswagen’s effort to hide the high pollution levels of its diesel-powered automobiles was a deliberate act of fraud perpetrated on consumers as well as the federal government.

Drivers who purchased Volkswagen vehicles equipped with a diesel-powered engine may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the company or join one of the existing class action litigations. The affected cars are 2009 to 2015 diesel-powered versions of Volkswagen’s  Volkswagen’s Golf, Passat, Jetta, and Beetle cars, as well as the diesel version of the Audi A3.

Volkswagen has announced that it will develop a plan to fix the emissions problem with its diesel vehicles in order to comply with federal pollution requirements under the Clean Air Act. However, these repairs will more than likely affect the performance of the 500,000 vehicles involved in the recall, making them far less enjoyable to drive than the vehicles drivers may have thought they were purchasing.