Judge likens Volkswagen crisis to ‘horse meat in lasagne’
German court orders full purchase price of Skoda Yeti to be refunded to customer
Volkswagen is challenging a court order to refund money to a customer. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
A German court has ordered Volkswagen to refund a customer the full purchase price of a Skoda Yeti, likening the VW group’s cars with manipulated diesel emissions to “horse meat in lasagne”.
The customer bought the car in 2013 for €26,499.99 because, the court added, Volkswagen had “wanted to secure a competitive advantage with apparent environmentally-friendly [exhaust] test results”.
Instead the car, like many other VW diesels, emitted noxious fumes far above legal limits – except when the car detected it was undergoing emission tests.
“We’re dealing here with consumer deception, to be viewed just as reprehensible as mixing anti-freeze into wine or horse meat into lasagne,” said the court in Hildesheim, near VW’s Wolfsburg headquarters.
In its ruling, the court said the complainant was entitled to a full refund on the Skoda Yeti 2.0 TDI Elegance Plus. Justifying its decision, the court said it was difficult to gauge the technical consequences of the software manipulation and the required updates, and it could not be ruled out that the emissions fix would damage the motor.
Counsel for the complainant described the ruling as a breakthrough for countless a customers of VW or VW group cars seeking damages as a result of the diesel scandal – including owners of older or second-hand cars.
“The ruling is of assistance above all to those who, because of expired guarantee rights . . . have limited chance of success,” said Mr Marco Rogert.
VW has challenged the ruling, pointing to how other courts have dismissed similar cases because no motor damage could be established.
“Volkswagen AG assumes that this ruling will remain a one-off and will be corrected on appeal,” a company spokesman said.
Earlier this month, a court in Bavaria ordered a car dealer to take back a Seat Alhambra, another VW group model with manipulated diesel emissions, in exchange for a brand new model.
On Thursday, ex-VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn makes a highly-anticipated appearance before a Germany parliamentary inquiry to explain his role in the diesel affair.
Earlier this month it was revealed that the disgraced executive is reportedly receiving a pension of € 93,000 a month, or €3,100 a day.