Daily Management Review

Car Defeat Devices As One Used By VW Is Broadly Illegal, Finds EU Court Adviser


Car Defeat Devices As One Used By VW Is Broadly Illegal, Finds EU Court Adviser
The software that was used by Volkswagen AG's to modify the temperature and altitude of pollution emissions is prohibited unless it prevents potentially dangerous abrupt engine damage, according to an adviser to the EU's highest court on Thursday.
If the finding upheld by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the decision is the latest in a string of proceedings stemming from the German automaker's admission of guilt in the Dieselgate crisis in 2015.
Judges of the CJEU generally follow the advocate general's opinions, although they are not required to do so.
Volkswagen stated that the temperature windows used in VW Group vehicles were legal because their aim was to prevent abrupt and urgent risks of engine damage.
Software Volkswagen AG used to alter pollutant emissions based on the temperature and altitude is illegal unless it prevents potentially dangerous sudden damage to the engine, an adviser to the EU's top court said on Thursday.
The dispute, brought by Austrian customers, revolves around software that controls a valve that recirculates exhaust fumes from the engine outlet. This lowers nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, which can cause respiratory issues in people.
The program closes the valve at temperatures over 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) and altitudes above 1,000 metres (3,280 feet), increasing NOx emissions. The consumers argue that this is an illegal defeat device for which they should be reimbursed.
CJEU attorney general Athanasios Rantos stated in his legal opinion that the court decided last December that emissions-rigging software was unlawful, even if it contributed to avoiding engine aging or clogging.
The temperature window, according to Rantos, was not reflective of real driving conditions in Austria and neighboring Germany, as the average temperature was much lower than 15 degrees Celsius. Vehicles were also often driven over 1,000 metres.
The software was a "defeat device," he added, and could only be justified if a valve problem had a rapid impact on the engine, such as a power outage while driving, even if the car was regularly maintained.
The attorney general stated that it was up to the Austrian courts to decide where the defeat device was required. He went on to say that one court had declared it was impossible to accomplish.