Carmakers sued for ‘misleading’ advertisements
Pressure is mounting on the Commission to bring in more realistic emissions tests for new cars after an Italian consumer organisation launched legal proceedings against Fiat and Volkswagen’s Italian office.
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The Milan-based organisation Altroconsumo investigated the fuel consumption of the Fiat Panda 1.2 (pictured) and the VW Golf 1.6 TDI, and found they consumed 20-50% more fuel than was stated in advertisements. It has therefore accused the two carmakers of misleading customers with wrong fuel consumption information.
The legal action is taking the form of a ‘class action’, which means Altroconsumo is collecting the names of affected drivers and claiming compensation. Users of these cars pay €329 (Panda) and €502 (Golf) more per year, on the basis of driving 15,000km a year, than they would if fuel consumption was as stated. The action is happening in Turin, the home of Fiat, and Venice where VW has its Italian office. The next step is for a judge to hear the carmakers’ defence and decide whether the case can proceed.
The action has the support of the European umbrella group of consumer organisations, BEUC, which says consumers are being ‘ripped off by carmakers stretching test loopholes to their absolute limit’. A spokesman said: ‘The suggestion is that carmakers have been doing more to influence the testing protocol as opposed to taking actual measures to reduce emissions.’
Environmental and consumer organisations have been saying for several years that rules for the fuel consumption and emissions testing of new vehicles produce results that are alarmingly far removed from emissions and fuel consumption in real driving conditions. The Commission accepted this principle and has proposed a stricter testing regime to come into effect in 2017, but this is uncertain following attempts by the automotive industry to delay the new tests. The outcome of Altroconsumo’s legal action could impact on the Commission’s willingness to press ahead with the new testing regime.