VW owners might seek more money in lawsuit

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VW owners might seek more money in lawsuit

The amount of compensation sought by Korean owners of Volkswagen vehicles as a result of the emissions-rigging scandal may be snowballing.

According to law firm Barun, which is currently managing the lawsuit filed by Korean Volkswagen owners, on Tuesday, the overall scale of the lawsuit could be getting much bigger since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering forcing the German brand to give a full refund on cars equipped with the problematic EA 189 engines because the cars’ fuel efficiency worsened following repairs to their engines.

Volkswagen has been saying that the emissions issues can be easily resolved by a quick and painless repair of the software that covers the engine’s electronic control unit (ECU), but several features including fuel efficiency reportedly worsened afterward.

The Korean lawsuit previously said each owner will seek 20 million won ($17,500) in compensation, but that could rise significantly considering popular models like Passat 2.0 TDI were offered at over 35 million won.

“The German and U.S. government put off the recall plan submitted by Volkswagen lately, as it showed that the fuel efficiency of some cars deteriorated after the repair,” Barun attorney Ha Jong-sun said in a press briefing. “Volkswagen is currently trying to reach a settlement with litigants in the United States over the compensation issue, and if the two sides fail to reach an agreement by April 21, the court will make a ruling about the refund by summer. We will act in accordance with that decision in the future.” The firm filed the lawsuit against the automaker earlier this year, and a total of 4,338 Volkswagen owners have joined the case as of last week.

Ha also expressed concern that the recall to be carried out in Korea wouldn’t ultimately resolve the emissions problem.

“The reason that the United States put off Volkswagen’s recall was because it saw that the emissions from the pickup truck Amarok in Germany didn’t improve even after the software was repaired,” Ha said.

He added that the Korean Ministry of Environment needs to demand the source codes for the engine’s ECU. The ministry tested Volkswagen cars based on the existing New European Driving Cycle method, but Ha argued that the test can’t find exact problems of the part, and that it therefore needs to secure source code files known as A2L and HAP that include structural details of the software. “

Without securing the codes, the ministry might approve the automaker’s recall plan without knowing the exact cause of the problem,” Ha said. “It means that it might be impossible to find whether the defect was fully repaired after a recall.”

Barun said it also filed an administrative injunction against the Environment Ministry as the government refused the request to reveal Volkswagen’s recall plan submitted on Jan. 6. The ministry said it refused to disclose the information since it is an ongoing issue.

BY KWON SANG-SOO [kwon.sangsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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