Volkswagen Diesel Engine Performance Will Suffer After Recall Repair, Lawsuit Alleges

According to allegations raised in a recently filed lawsuit over Volkswagen TDI diesel engine problems, even if the company “fixes” the vehicles and removes software designed to cheat on emissions tests, owners will be left with vehicles that will likely have significantly reduced power and performance.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Natalie Johnson on January 28, in the Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit in Orange County, Florida.

Johnson indicates that she purchased a 2012 Volkswagen Jetta Sports wagon with a 2.0L TDI diesel engine, believing it to be environmentally friendly car that still provides high performance. However, last year it was discovered that Volkswagen had installed “defeat device” software on vehicles with the TDI “clean” diesel engines, which illegally reduced emissions levels when the vehicle was being tested.

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Volkswagen Diesel Lawsuits

Owners of certain Audi and VW TDI Diesel vehicles may be entitled to financial compensation.

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Nearly 500,000 Volkswagen diesel vehicles sold in the United States were impacted by a recall issued in September 2015, after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported the problems.

Since then, the German automaker and U.S. regulators have been wrangling over how the company will fix the vehicles, with some suggesting the only option may be to buy them back.

VW officials have maintained that they believe the cars can be fixed. However, the emissions software had to significantly lower performance of the vehicles to cheat the testing protocols, otherwise they emitted as much as 40 times the amount of some air pollutants allowed by law.

“Volkswagen will need to diminish the performance of its vehicles, including available horsepower, torque and fuel efficiency in order to comply with EPA’s directive to bring the Defective Cars in compliance with the Clean Air Act and other regulations,” the lawsuit notes. “As result, Plaintiff’s Vehicle will not perform with the same efficiency and performance once it is modified to comply with emissions regulations and standards.”

The lawsuit also predicts that Johnson will have to pay more for fuel and that the overall value of the vehicle has declined.

The lawsuit comes as German media reports that an internal memo warned Volkswagen managers of the problem as early as May 2014, alerting them that an investigation was pending by U.S. regulators.

The letter could play a crucial role in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice against Volkswagen for $46 million over the emissions software scandal.

Volkswagen Diesel Engine Recall Litigation

There are currently more than 500 similar lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system involving emissions “cheat” software contained in certain Volkswagen and Audi diesel vehicles, and it is widely expected that lawsuits will be brought on behalf of tens of thousands of vehicle owners who allege they paid a premium for TDI Diesel vehicles, which are now worth substantially less.

Since December, the cases have been consolidated as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), which is centralized before U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer in the Northern District of California to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different Courts and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.

In late January, Judge Breyer appointed a group of 22 Volkswagen MDL attorneys to serve in various leadership positions in the litigation. The Plaintiffs Steering Committee will take certain actions during the discovery and pretrial proceedings that benefit all vehicle owners who have filed lawsuits over the Volkswagen diesel engine performance issues.

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