New Mexico sues Volkswagen over violation of clean-air state laws and trade malpractices
New Mexico sued Volkswagen (VW) and other German automakers for violating the state laws on clear air and selling thousands of models that ended up spewing copious amounts of nitrogen oxide, well exceeding the permitted levels.
State Attorney General Hector Balderas filed a lawsuit in a Sante Fe court not only against VW but also Audi, Porsche, and their US subsidiaries on the same grounds. According to The Wall Street Journal, Balderas stated that he will ensure maximum financial returns for the state because "it's not lawful to profiteer and breach the trust of New Mexico consumers." These automobile giants used massive advertising campaigns to hide the illegal methods adopted to pass the government checks and roll out their swanky, not-so-eco-friendly models on to the streets.
The lawsuit thus aptly says, "Supported by a massive advertising campaign, defendants claimed that superior engineering allowed their cars to perform better, consume less fuel and emit fewer harmful pollutants than diesel cars of the past, making them a great fit for eco-conscious consumers. In fact, the complete opposite was true." A VW spokesperson chose not to comment on the New Mexico lawsuit.
However, this is not the first time the automobile giant has been accused of such practices. South Korea also wants to file charges on the company on similar grounds, says Autoevolution. Apparently, it also faces some 500 lawsuits slapped on by customers and car dealers which have been consolidated in the San Francisco federal court.
The German company's legal troubles only deepen, with the US Justice Department suing on behalf of Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month. This alone can cost the company as much as $20 billion in fines under the Clean Air Act. Autoblog reveals that VW had acknowledged that they were involved in fitting the cars with software that would turn on pollution controls during government checks and shut them off when on the streets. The attorneys say that the company reportedly exceeded the emission limits by 30-40% through 4000-10,000 faulty models of Beetles and Jettas. Such levels of emission usually result in smog that causes serious health hazards like asthma attacks.
VW CEO Matthias Mueller has apologized for the unfortunate situation and mentioned that the company's focus this year would be to regain its customers' trust and reconstruct its goodwill. However, the New Mexico prosecutors are 'seeking a jury trial as well as damages, including penalties for each day and each violation of the state's air quality act'.