SYDNEY – German car giant Volkswagen has agreed to pay millions in compensation to those affected by its diesel emissions scandal in Australia, legal sources announced Monday.
Volkswagen’s Australian subsidiary will shell out at least AU$87 million (around $59.7 million) to affected motorists according to a statement by Australian law firm Maurice Blackburn, which filed a class action suit in 2015 along with Bannister Law.
The total compensation could rise to AU$127 million depending on the final number of claimants.
Under the agreement, the German carmaker has also agreed to pay the plaintiffs’ legal costs but does not make any admission of liability.
Volkswagen has opted for the settlement to prevent incurring further costs of the trial, whose second stage was scheduled to begin this month (the first stage took place last year).
The class action suit argued that the software installed by Volkswagen in its cars violates Australian laws, an accusation the German company has denied, saying its cars met the country’s emissions standards.
The confidential agreement, which must be approved by the Federal Court of Australia, affects several Volkswagen models, as well as Audi and Skoda vehicles, powered by EA189 1.6- or 2.0-litre diesel engines, sold in Australia between 2008 and 2015.
“This is an important step in providing a measure of justice and redress to the thousands of Australian motorists who claim they were financially impacted by the diesel emissions issue,” Maurice Blackburn Principal Lawyer Julian Schimmel said in the statement.
In September 2015, it was reported that Volkswagen had rigged diesel engines to hide that the actual emissions of nitrogen oxide – considered carcinogenic – were far above those allowed by United States’ regulations.
The following year the manufacturer agreed to pay more than $25 billion in fines and compensation in the United States while Canadian courts approved a $1.57 billion settlement with Volkswagen in 2017.