VW to give Aust government car info next week

Volkswagen customers in Australia should find out next week whether their cars will be recalled as part of the emissions-cheating scandal that has rocked the German car maker.

Volkswagen and Audi officials met with federal government and the consumer watchdog on Friday, promising to update them on whether Australians have been sold cars fitted with so-called defeat devices to cheat emissions testing.

‘VW and Audi have committed to update the public on Australian-sold vehicles as more detailed information is provided from their global headquarters,’ Minister for Territories, Local Government and Major Projects Paul Fletcher said in a statement.

‘The government expects this information to be provided next week.’

That is not soon enough for law firm Maurice Blackburn, which is set to start work on the class action it promised would follow if Volkswagen did not come clean on Friday.

Class actions principal Damian Scattini said he will now talk to colleagues in the United States, where Volkswagen faces a possible $US18 billion ($A25.6 billion) fine and criminal charges after the discovery that 482,000 of its diesel cars there were emitting up to 40 times more toxic fumes than permitted.

‘We’ll go about getting the information another way,’ said Mr Scattini, who said he could make a freedom of information request to prise the full facts from Volkswagen.

Close to 400 Australian consumers have already contacted the law firm.

Mr Scattini said consumers were concerned at the resale value of vehicles, the effect repairs could have on engines’ longevity, and the environmental impact.

He added that motorists could even be voiding their insurance by driving a car with an illegal modification.

Volkswagen, which has lost about 40 per cent of its share value since the scandal broke, has said it will repair 11 million vehicles.

It said this week that affected customers would be contacted ‘within days’ but Australians are still in the dark.

Volkswagen sold more than 200,000 new cars in Australia between the start of 2012 and the end of August this year, according to PPB Advisory.

That’s one in 20 of all new cars.

Since the start of 2012, 30 per cent of new vehicles across all manufacturers are diesel.

Mr Scattini said it is inconceivable that VW doesn’t have all the relevant information.

‘Germans are good record keepers. If you wanted to find a part for a 1972 Volkswagen Beetle, they’d have a way of finding that for you very quickly,’ Mr Scattini said.

‘I can’t believe for a moment they don’t know what’s happening here. If they did not have those engines in Australia, they would very quickly say we don’t have those here and it’s not a problem’.’

The ACCC has demanded Volkswagen hand over all marketing material to see if it misled or deceived buyers and could issue fines of up to $1.1 million per breach of consumer law.

‘They could be for each vehicle, or for the advertising medium, there are various ways to come at it,’ ACCC chairman Rod Sims said on Thursday.

‘There’s no doubt that the penalties could be significant.’

Source : AAP