Federal Trade Commission suing Volkswagen for false advertising

By Land Line staff | 4/5/2016

The Federal Trade Commission claims Volkswagen Group of America used false advertising to promote its “clean diesel” VWs and Audis and is reportedly seeking more than $15 billion in damages.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, Volkswagen deceived consumers with the advertising campaign it used to promote its supposedly “clean diesel” VWs and Audies. Volkswagen fitted them with illegal emission defeat devices designed to mask high emissions during government tests.

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking a court order requiring Volkswagen to compensate American consumers who bought or leased an affected vehicle between late 2008 and late 2015, as well as an injunction to prevent Volkswagen from engaging in this type of conduct again.

In a complaint filed in federal court, the Federal Trade Commission alleges “that during this seven-year period Volkswagen deceived consumers by selling or leasing more than 550,000 diesel cars based on false claims that the cars were low-emission, environmentally friendly, met emissions standards, and would maintain a high resale value.”

The cars sold for an average price of $28,000.

“For years, Volkswagen’s ads touted the company’s ‘clean diesel’ cars even though it now appears Volkswagen rigged the cars with devices designed to defeat emissions tests,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a news release. “Our lawsuit seeks compensation for the consumers who bought affected cars based on Volkswagen’s deceptive and unfair practices.”

The Federal Trade Commission claims Volkswagen targeted “environmentally conscious” consumers through a high-profile marketing campaign that included Super Bowl ads, online social media campaigns and print advertising.

Volkswagen’s promotional materials claimed its “clean diesel” vehicles had low emissions, including that they reduced nitrogen oxides emissions by 90 percent and have fewer such emissions than gasoline cars. However, the Federal Trade Commission’s complaint claims the vehicles emitted up to 4,000 percent more than the legal limit of nitrogen oxides emissions.

The affected vehicles include 2009 through 2015 Volkswagen TDI diesel models of Jettas, Passats and Touareg SUVs, as well as TDI Audi models. The suggested sale prices for the affected vehicles ranged from $22,000 to $125,000.

The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division.

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