The trial could last up to four years. Already It has been proven in other courts that Volkswagen used fraudulent devices To hide CO2 emissions in their vehicles and the Brunswick Court must now decide whether the company "caused damage" to the more than 450,000 plaintiffs, including some 4,000 Spaniards and if "it acted contrary to ethics." The similar class action lawsuit filed in the US It ended there with the obligation of the company to repurchase cars to customers for the same price at which they were sold. The German car strategy, in this process, the first group of European customers, is to reduce as much as possible the compensation to be paid, claiming that in four years of vehicle use, the deterioration, so to speak, would have eaten the repair for damages that the company had to pay hypothetically.
The defense try to count the damages to be compensated in court in this way: a car whose purchase price was 30,000 euros four years ago and that during that time has made 50,000 kilometers, would lose a value of 6,000 euros, so in that case Volkswagen would pay only 24,000 euros to its owner. If, for example, the car had made 110,000 kilometers, the reduction would amount to 13,200 euros and pay only 16,800 euros. Christopher Rother, lawyer of the US law firm Kanzlei Hausfeld, also warns that “this ruling does not mean that none of the clients will automatically receive any money, but that each of them, after the court decision, must file an individual claim before the company". "And the longer the trial lasts, the lower the compensation they can individually receive," he claims for an agreement as soon as possible.
"Not at all, we are positive, very optimistic, we have sentences in our favor and we do not expect this to last beyond January, for the sake of the company itself," said the lawyer at the entrance of the trial plaintiffs, Ralf Stoll, who represents the VZBV consumer association, which serves as the sole plaintiff. “We have already won several lawsuits before regional courts, why shouldn't we win this time if it is the same facts that will be put on trial? For us the case is absolutely clear: Volkswagen has cheated its customers and must pay for the damages, ”he said. On the possibility of an agreement, he says only "we will have to see, Volkswagen is very well advised and will understand that the best thing you can do is meet the demands of deceived customers."
"Even today hundreds of thousands of vehicles are still used," insists Martina de Lind van Wijngaarden, a lawyer for the company, "and given that Each registered consumer must claim their rights individually, the examination of this requirement will last at least until 2023, due to the possibility of an appeal before the Federal Court, to which one more year of administrative work should be added ”. To reduce the duration of the process, the VZBV is "open" to a friendly agreement, but "in that case, Volkswagen must, nevertheless, pay a significant amount," said the director of the VZBV.
The manufacturer considers "unimaginable" such an agreement, due to the heterogeneity of situations, such as the purchase of vehicles abroad or after the revelation of the scandal and would prefer to reach individual agreements with each of the plaintiffs. The second hearing is scheduled on November 18. In parallel, 61,000 individual lawsuits were filed in Germany, of which one party led to extrajudicial settlements.
The scandal broke out in 2015, when Volkswagen acknowledged having equipped 11 million vehicles with devices to trick emission test results pollutants Since then, the case has already cost the group more than 30,000 million euros in legal expenses, fines and compensation, mainly paid in the United States, so far, the manufacturer has barely paid three fines in Germany for a total of 2,300 million euros , but it is still threatened by a whole list of civil and criminal proceedings, while the current directive strives to turn the page and leave behind as quickly as possible the tremendous image damage that the scandal has caused to the brand. "For Volkswagen, the scandal belongs to the history of the group, such as beetle and Golf," said Ralf Brandstätter, head of the VW brand to which the facts are contrary. Last week, the current executive director, Herbert Diess, and the chairman of the group's supervisory board, Hans Dieter Pötsch, were personally sent to justice for manipulation of the stock exchange, having hidden relevant information about the case for the actions, the ex-head Martin Winterkorn, who had to resign in 2015 , was fired for "fraud."