Sims puts Volkswagen in ACCC spotlight

‘Dieselgate’ scandal has ACCC confirming it will enforce consumer law

Sims puts Volkswagen in ACCC spotlight
Rod Sims says protection of Australian Design Rules allows the ACCC to take action.


While Volkswagen Australia awaits direction from its German parent company, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has put it on notice for scrutiny.

VW acknowledged this week that 1.8 million of its vans contain the engines at the centre of the emissions evading software, or ‘defeat device’, scandal that looks set to dog the manufacturer for years.

"This enforcement investigation is a priority for the ACCC," its chairman, Rod Sims, says of the issues that is being dubbed ‘Dieselgate’.

"We are very concerned about the potential consumer and competition detriment from this alleged conduct.

"First, using defeat devices is specifically prohibited under the Australian Design Rules, which are picked up as Australian Consumer Law (ACL) mandatory safety standards."

"As the enforcer of the ACL, the ACCC can take action against any corporation that has breached mandatory standards.

"Secondly, cars are a big purchasing decision and claims that relate to environmental benefits or fuel efficiency can influence consumer choice.

"Businesses must be able to substantiate any claims they make.

"The ACCC will be seeking marketing materials from VW Group and will not hesitate to take action if consumers were exposed to false, misleading or deceptive representations."

The maximum penalty per breach of the ACL is $1.1 million for a corporation.

VW Australia is yet to clarify to the ACCC if it has supplied vehicles or components into the Australian market that use defeat devices.

The ACCC says it is considering public comments made by Audi Australia on how its Australian customers are affected.

Audi claims the software is "inactive" in its EA 189 diesel engines and indicates the offending software is to be removed for its vehicles.

The watchdog is working with the federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development to determine the impact on Australian consumers.

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