Frequently Asked Questions

Registration

About the Class Action

Legal Costs

Affected Vehicles

About Maurice Blackburn


Registration

 

How do I register?

  • First, go to the Register / Login page
  • Type in your email address, and click "Next".  Then, fill in the rest of the fields and click "Login"

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I don't have an email address - how do I register?

If you do not have an email address and would like to register for our class action, please call 1800 810 812 and our team will assist you. 

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Where do I find the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)?

VIN - This is a 17 digit number which is unique to your vehicle.  It can usually be found under the bonnet near the engine, inside the passenger side of the vehicle near the dash or in your service manual.

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Where do I find the Model Year of my vehicle?

This is often shown on your purchase documents.  For example, "Volkswagen Golf MY16" is a model year 2016.

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Where do I find the Manufacture Year of my vehicle?

This can be found under the bonnet under the engine or inside the passenger side of the vehicle near the dash.

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What is the Year of Purchase?

This is the year you purchased your vehicle.

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Where do I find the compliance/identification plate?

The plate may be a small aluminium plate, or a sticker.  The plate will probably look similar to this:

The plate is usually located:

  1. on the driver’s side door jamb/pillar; or
  2. in the vehicle’s engine bay (located under the bonnet, front & centre); or
  3. fixed to the passenger side’s footwell (where the passenger rests their feet); or
  4. in the boot.

Your vehicle owner's manual is likely to describe where the plate is located.

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How do I register an additional vehicle?

If you have another vehicle which you had an interest in as at 3 October 2015, and would like to register for the class action, follow these steps:

  1. Log in using your email address and password
  2. Click ‘Register’ at the top right hand corner of the screen
  3. Check your address is up to date, and click ‘Continue’
  4. Click ‘Add Vehicle’ and enter your vehicle details.
  5. If you have added a new Make of vehicle (e.g. if you have previously registered a Volkswagen and you are now registering an Audi), you will need to respond to our Client Agreement in relation to that Make of vehicle. If you are registering the same Make of vehicle that you have previously registered, you do not need to respond to our Client Agreement again.

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About the Class Action

 

What is the class action about?

In November 2015, Maurice Blackburn commenced class actions against Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda, in relation to 1.6 and 2.0 litre diesel vehicles, in the Federal Court of Australia. Thousands of people have now retained Maurice Blackburn as their lawyers to represent them in the class actions.

The Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda class actions allege the manufacturers of certain Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda diesel vehicles fitted software known as “defeat devices” to those vehicle’s emissions control systems. The defeat devices are designed to cause vehicles to emit materially lower levels of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) during emission testing procedures than would otherwise be emitted during normal use.

We allege that these defeat devices contravene a number of Australian laws and that motorists have suffered loss as a result of those contraventions. 

The class action does not include petrol vehicles or 3.0 litre diesel vehicles.

Please be aware that Maurice Blackburn has stopped investigating and is no longer pursuing potential claims against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche in relation to 3.0 litre diesel vehicles.

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What is the diesel emissions scandal about?

On 3 September 2015, Volkswagen admitted to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that certain model year 2009 to 2015 Volkswagen and Audi diesel vehicles fitted with a four cylinder engine (2.0 litre “EA 189” engine) were designed and manufactured with defeat devices.

Following this, the EPA issued a Notice of Violation on 18 September 2015 to Volkswagen, stating that the defeat devices bypass, defeat, or render inoperative elements of the vehicles' emission control system.

The class action alleges that:

  1. These defeat devices were designed to detect when a vehicle was being tested for compliance with emissions standards, and then to activate the vehicle’s emission control systems to temporarily lower the level of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emitted by the vehicle in order to pass emissions testing.
  1. Under normal driving conditions, the defeat device de-activated parts of the vehicle’s emissions control system so as to reduce the effectiveness of the emission control system, with the result that the vehicle performed better but emitted higher levels of NOx, which were in excess of emissions standards.

On 22 September 2015, Volkswagen announced that approximately 11 million vehicles were affected by the defeat device worldwide.

On 3 October 2015, Volkswagen announced that there had been a temporary suspension of the sale of diesel vehicles fitted with 1.6 or 2.0 litre EA 189 engines in Australia due to the emissions issue.

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If you were an owner or held an interest in an affected vehicle (such as a lease contract) as at 3 October 2015, and you have not opted out of these proceedings, you are likely to be a group member in the class action and you are entitled to register your details with Maurice Blackburn.  You can do so by completing the registration form on our website.

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What happens if I sell my car now or in the future?

You will still be able to participate in the class action if you sell or have sold your vehicle, and have suffered loss (e.g. the price paid by a purchaser is lower than it would have otherwise been but for the emissions issue).  This is because we have defined the class of claimants to include anyone who had an interest in an affected vehicle as at 3 October 2015 (i.e, when Volkswagen confirmed Australian vehicles were affected).

However, you should keep any documentation relevant to the sale of your vehicle. Should you wish to obtain any advice from us regarding your individual circumstances please contact us.

If you have sold your vehicle or finalised a lease or finance arrangement on your vehicle since registering for the class action, please update these details with us by completing the Additional Claim Details.

 

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Can I still be a part of the class action if I do / do not have the recall software update applied to my vehicle?

You can still participate in the class action regardless of whether you have had the software update applied to your vehicle.

Although Volkswagen has announced a voluntary vehicle recall, there is still much uncertainty as to whether the proposed ‘fix’ will adversely impact the vehicle.  Aside from the Amarok, regulatory authorities have not formally approved any proposed ‘fix’ to the affected vehicles in Australia.

In addition, it is far from clear as to how any proposed ‘fix’ will recalibrate engines and other components or what impact this will have on fuel economy, performance and durability of various engine components. 

In the meantime we note that Volkswagen’s proposed recall programme is ‘voluntary’. Ultimately it is a matter for individuals as to whether they wish to participate in such a voluntary recall, particularly without further disclosure from Volkswagen as to why the recall is required, what the recall involves and more transparency as to what the impacts on performance, economy and engine durability will be.

Prior to entering into any agreement with the dealer or manufacturer, we recommend that you obtain legal advice as to your circumstances. Clients that retain Maurice Blackburn in our class actions will receive legal advice from us in relation to these issues.

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What is a class action?

In Australia, when 7 or more people share a common legal issue, one person (the ‘lead applicant’) can bring a claim on behalf of other aggrieved persons (‘group members’ or ‘class members’), enabling large numbers of claims to be resolved in a single case (a ‘class action’).

Australia’s class actions regime was introduced in 1992, as an efficient mechanism to provide the multiple victims of serious corporate misconduct access to justice.  Grouping claims with a common legal or factual issue arising out of the same or similar circumstances together in a class action means that multiple claims can be dealt with much more efficiently by the Court. 

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What documents / information do I need to keep to be part of the class action?

There are a number of documents that you should retain to facilitate the processing of your claim. This includes copies of your vehicle purchase documents, registration papers, financing and/or lease documents, and insurance documents (if your vehicle is written off). 

If you have sold your vehicle, please also keep the sale and transfer documents, together with any advertising material associated with the sale.  We also suggest that you take a photograph of the compliance/identification plate on your vehicle.

If you do not have all of these documents then you may still be able to participate in the class action.

 

What if I want to make a different kind of claim?

We are only pursuing the class action at this stage, which covers the issues common to affected vehicle owners as set out in the pleaded claims.  This ensures that the claim is properly brought as a class action rather than a collection of individual claims that do not have common features about them. 

You may well have other or additional prospective claims against Volkswagen, Audi or Skoda relating to your vehicle, which fall outside the diesel emissions scandal.  However, for practical and procedural reasons, we are unable to pursue those unrelated individual claims or potential claims as part of this class action.  For these claims or potential claims you should obtain your own individual legal advice.

 

Can I speak to a lawyer about the progress of the claim?

As the case progresses we will keep our registered clients updated about developments through our online client portal.  Maurice Blackburn clients (who have accepted our Client Agreement) receive email notification when a new update is available on the Maurice Blackburn Portal. 

Of course, should you have any questions that are not answered by our updates or FAQs, you can contact our team by sending us a message through the Portal, by email at vw@mauriceblackburn.com.au or by phone on 1800 810 812.

 

How long will the class action take?

The length of time it takes to achieve a settlement with the defendant or progress to a trial in Court is different for every class action.  In our experience, across the many class actions that Maurice Blackburn has run, the typical class action takes an average of 3 years to resolve. 

Because class actions are a special type of case which affects the rights of many people, they are heavily supervised by the Federal Court at every step of the way.  We attend regular directions hearings at the Federal Court where the judge sets a timetable for what steps each party must take before the next hearing.  This ensures that this very large class action progresses as quickly as possible.

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How much compensation will I get?

It is too early to precisely predict your compensation, but we are seeking maximum damages available under the law (which may well amount to a full refund) plus special punitive damages on top for the knowing deception of customers.  We have also claimed an account of profits made by Volkswagen attributable to the affected vehicles. The final amount payable will be assessed by the Court.

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What about the settlement in the United States?

You may be aware that in July 2016, a settlement was approved in the United States between Volkswagen and affected consumers, which involves a ‘buy back’ scheme and a compensation payment to individual consumers.

Although the settlement reached in the United States is a great win for affected vehicle owners in the United States, unfortunately it does not have any effect on the separate class action in Australia.   However, it does, importantly, place pressure on Volkswagen to compensate affected Australian consumers for their losses.

To date, it has been Volkswagen’s position that different regulations apply in Australia, and accordingly, Volkswagen have continued to argue that they have not breached Australian laws. We strongly dispute this argument, and are continuing to fight for the rights of those affected by the emissions scandal in Australia in the Federal Court.

Registering your vehicle and claim as part of our class action proceedings costs you nothing and can be done now. We believe it is the best chance you have of recovering potentially thousands of dollars of losses and holding the company to account for its wrongdoing.

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When is the class action going to be heard in Court?

The Stage 1 trial in the Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda class actions commenced in the Federal Court of Australia on Monday, 5 March 2018, and concluded on 19 March 2018. The Stage 1 trial dealt with the technical issues in the case, including whether the vehicles had an illegal ‘defeat device’.

We are currently awaiting judgment for Stage 1.

The Stage 2 trial is set to begin on Monday, 9 September 2019 and is currently scheduled to run for 8 weeks. 

The Stage 2 trial will deal with the consequences of the Respondents installing the defeat device within the vehicles, and whether or not it can be proved that they did this deliberately. It will also deal with whether group members have suffered loss as a result of the Respondents’ conduct, and how that loss should be compensated.

 

Will I have to go to Court if I instruct Maurice Blackburn to represent me?

As this claim is being conducted as a class action, only the representative applicants can be required to provide evidence in court on the trial of common issues. 

Theoretically, if the claim proceeds to an assessment of individual claims you may be required to provide evidence in relation to your claim at that stage. However, it is quite common in class actions that once the common issues of law and fact have been determined, the claims of individual group members are resolved by agreement without the need to go to Court for a hearing of individual group member claims.

 

Who are the Respondents?

The Maurice Blackburn class actions about the Dieselgate scandal in Australia have been brought against:

  1. Volkswagen AG (incorporated in Germany);
  2. Audi AG (incorporated in Germany);
  3. Skoda Auto a.s. (incorporated in the Czech Republic);
  4. Volkswagen Group Australia Pty Ltd; and
  5. Audi Australia Pty Ltd.

 

What have Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda done wrong?

We allege that the defeat devices contravene a number of Australian laws and that motorists have suffered loss as a result. The Statement of Claim filed in the Court alleges that:

  1. The affected vehicles failed to comply with the requirements of the Australian Design Rules;
  2. Because of their failure to comply with the Australian Design Rules, the affected vehicles failed to comply with the requirements for registration and therefore were not lawfully able to be registered or driven on public roads in Australia;
  3. Volkswagen engaged in conduct that was misleading or deceptive, or was likely to mislead or deceive;
  4. Volkswagen made false or misleading representations (and Group Members purchased or acquired interests in the affected vehicles because of those representations), in representing that the affected vehicles:
    1. complied with the applicable legal requirements for road vehicles in Australia;
    2. were of a particular standard and quality in that they were compliant with applicable legal requirements for road vehicles in Australia, when that was not the case;
    3. had certain performance characteristics, uses or benefits, in that they were able to be registered and used on public roads in Australia, when that was not the case;
    4. produced emissions at a level below the limits specified by the Australian Design Rules, and that the vehicles’ emissions technology would preserve emissions at that level in normal driving conditions, when that was not the case.
  5. Volkswagen have engaged in unconscionable conduct in deliberately concealing the defeat devices in the affected vehicles;
  6. The affected vehicles were not of merchantable quality and did not comply with the guarantee as to acceptable quality.

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Can we seek to punish Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda for their alleged conduct?

The class action alleges that by engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct, the Volkswagen Group has shown a conscious disregard for the rights of affected Australian vehicle owners.  The class action seeks an award of exemplary damages as a consequence of this conduct.  

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has also filed proceedings against Volkswagen and Audi in relation to the diesel emissions scandal, and is seeking penalties.

 

Why should I register my details and instruct Maurice Blackburn for these class actions?

Firstly, you do not have to register with Maurice Blackburn in order to be a group member in these class actions.  These class actions are being brought by the lead applicants on behalf of all those with an interest in any of the 100,000 affected Australian vehicles when the scandal was made known. 

Many thousands of group members have already instructed Maurice Blackburn to represent them since these proceedings were commenced.  While people may have different reasons for wanting Maurice Blackburn to be their legal representatives, we believe there are some key justifications for why you might want to have Maurice Blackburn represent you, including: 

  • To deter future corporate misconduct: The class action alleges that Volkswagen has deliberately concealed their actions to cheat emission testing regimes. To help deter future similar behaviour, Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda owners should make it clear that this sort of corporate misconduct is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.  One important way of holding Volkswagen to account, is by pursuing your entitlements via the class action, and actively instructing Maurice Blackburn, Australia’s leading class action firm, to represent you in the process.  Doing so sends a clear message that group members are taking an active interest in the claim. 

  • Human and Environmental issues: Volkswagen’s actions show a blatant disregard for the environment and for our communities’ health. Our claims allege that despite knowing that these vehicles did not comply with NOx emissions thresholds when used for ordinary driving, Volkswagen actually marketed their vehicles as green, clean and environmentally friendly, based on the testing results that we allege they cheated on.

    NOx, one of the pollutants emitted by these diesel vehicles in significant quantities, is the precursor to photochemical smog.  NOx emissions can be part of the cause of acid rain too.  NOx is a potentially dangerous gas and that is why authorities around the world have resolved to regulate NOx emissions from vehicles, so as to limit their impact on humans and our environment. 

  • Real loss suffered: We believe that those with an interest in the affected Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda diesel vehicles when the scandal was revealed in late 2015 have suffered real loss because of the Dieselgate deception perpetrated on them by the Volkswagen group of companies. Should the class action be successful, the Court will be asked to determine the extent of group members’ losses and whether exemplary damages might also be awarded against Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda.

 

What is NOx?

Diesel vehicles produce a range of pollutant emissions which include emissions of NOx (the collective term for ‘oxides of nitrogen’ comprising NO and NO2).  NOx are poisonous, highly reactive gases that form when diesel fuel is ignited at high temperatures during the combustion process.  NOx is known to be harmful to both humans and the environment and has resulted in governments around the world regulating to control the maximum permissible NOx quantities that may be emitted from combustion engine motor vehicles to limit the harm they cause.

What effect can NOx have on the environment? 

NOx has serious detrimental effects on the environment. It is a precursor to photochemical smog and therefore further contributes to the adverse effects of substances comprising photochemical smog, which is principally ozone. A resulting adverse effect of this is that vegetation and other materials deteriorate and are harmed, leading to damaged foliage, decreased growth and/or reduced crop yields.

What effect can NOx have on our health? 

Studies in relation to the impact of NOx have concluded that it has various health effects, including irritation of the eyes, throat, nasal passages, and lungs.  It is known to trigger asthma in asthmatics.  The chronic (long term) health effects of being exposed to elevated levels of NOx are said to include various respiratory conditions (such as Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome and obliterative bronchiolitis).  These have been well documented by governments, regulators and organisations worldwide, including the World Health Organisation and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Legal Costs

What does ‘No Win, No Charge’ mean?

The class action, including your individual claim, will be conducted on a no win, no charge basis. This means that Maurice Blackburn is only entitled to be paid our legal costs if the claim is successful and those costs are approved or ordered by the Court.   If the claim is not successful, you will not be required to pay legal costs.

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What legal costs will I incur?

Our Maurice Blackburn Client Agreement provides more detail on our legal costs, but essentially, our fees will be calculated on the basis of the amount of time worked on the case. Our legal costs are not calculated by reference to the value of your claim or the compensation you may recover. They are calculated solely on the basis of actual time spent, and actual expenses incurred, in pursuing the claim on behalf of all group members.

Although it is not possible to accurately estimate the legal costs at this stage, we confirm that in our past experience, our legal costs have amounted to an average of approximately 12% of the compensation recovered.

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What is an 'uplift fee'?

Because we are taking the risk of running the case on a no win, no charge basis, we are entitled to charge an uplift fee, if the claim is successful.

The uplift fee is calculated simply as 25% of our legal costs. It is not related to the amount of compensation which we may recover for you.

An uplift fee of 25% is commonplace for most law firms that conduct claims on a no win, no charge basis. The uplift fee reflects the fact that reimbursement of costs and disbursements can only ever occur if the claim is successful and compensation is achieved.

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Will I need to pay any legal costs along the way?

No. You will not be asked to make any payment towards costs from your own pocket, either during or after the class action.

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Who pays legal costs if the class action is successful?

Commonly class action settlements or favourable judgments require the defendant to pay the claimants’ legal costs in addition to any compensation agreed or awarded. Where this occurs legal costs are not deducted from any compensation but are paid in addition by the defendants.

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Who approves the legal costs?

As these class actions are being conducted in the Federal Court of Australia, a Federal Court Judge must review and approve any legal costs. The Federal Court will not approve any class action settlement (or legal costs) if the settlement and costs are not fair and reasonable. The oversight of the Federal Court in approving any settlement and costs provides all claimants with a high level of comfort and protection in this regard.

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What if the compensation is minimal?

In the unlikely event that the overall amount recovered does not cover legal costs incurred, Maurice Blackburn will forego the difference. This gives additional comfort that, by retaining Maurice Blackburn as your lawyers in these class actions, you will not be asked to pay any ‘out of pocket’ costs.

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Will I have to pay more if I accept Maurice Blackburn's Client Agreement?

Typically the costs of conducting a class action are apportioned across all group members, (regardless of whether they have retained a lawyer or not). This generally means that claimants are not disadvantaged (in terms of the amount they might receive as compensation), if they choose to retain lawyers.

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Do I have to accept the Client Agreement in order to be in the class action?

No. The class action is being conducted on an 'opt-out' basis, and therefore any person who acquired an interest in an affected vehicle as at 3 October 2015, and did not ‘opt out’ during the opt out period, will be a group member in the class action. Therefore you do not need to retain us as your lawyers to be a group member. However, only those people who retain us (by accepting the Maurice Blackburn Client Agreement) will have access to specialised services provided by our team of lawyers, including:

  • Individual legal representation that extends beyond the issues common to all group members;
  • The facilitation of the loss assessment process, based on your individual circumstances; and
  • Regular updates about the progress of the class actions. 


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Can I still opt out of the Class Action?

No.  The deadline in which you were able to opt out of the class action (18 October 2017) has now passed.  In accordance with orders of the Federal Court, we sent notice of this date directly to group members who have registered with Maurice Blackburn.  Additionally, Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda sent notices directly to all group members in their database.  The opt out deadline was also advertised on our website, Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda’s websites, Facebook pages and hotline telephone numbers, and in various newspapers.  If you did not opt-out prior to 18 October 2017 by sending the Opt Out Notice to the Federal Court, you will continue to be a group member in this class action and will be bound by the outcome. 

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What happens if I don't accept the Maurice Blackburn Client Agreement?

Although you will still be considered a group member in the class action, if you decide not to accept Maurice Blackburn's Client Agreement, you will not receive our updates about the progress of the class action.  We will also be unable to provide you with legal advice about your individual circumstances.  If you change your mind about accepting the Maurice Blackburn Client Agreement at any time, please contact us using the Messages tab above, by email at vw@mauriceblackburn.com.au or on 1800 810 812.

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What if the class action is unsuccessful?

If the claim is not ultimately successful Maurice Blackburn will not be paid any costs.  This is because the class action is being conducted on a no win, no charge basis. 

The Federal Court legislation also provides additional protection.  Group members participating in class actions cannot be ordered to pay the defendant's costs if the action is unsuccessful.

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What makes Maurice Blackburn different?

Maurice Blackburn have decided to run the Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda class actions on a No Win, No Charge basis without a litigation funder. As Australia’s largest and most successful class action practice, Maurice Blackburn does not require external litigation funding to conduct the case on its own purse.  Put simply, a litigation funder is a finance company for legal action. Generally, litigation funders pay for the legal fees while the action is ongoing, and then take a commission of around 30% of the compensation in addition to requiring reimbursement of the legal fees.

Because Maurice Blackburn are NOT using a litigation funder, this means that our clients do not have to pay any commission to a litigation funder out of their compensation - only our legal fees and disbursements are reimbursed if there is a successful outcome in the action (and most, or all of those costs are usually paid by the defendant in a successful class action, on top of the compensation).

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Affected Vehicles

 

Which vehicles are affected by the emissions scandal?

The following types of diesel vehicles which were fitted with a four cylinder “EA 189” 1.6L or 2.0L engine and contained a defeat device (manufactured between 2008 and 2015) are affected.

This list may change if further information comes to hand.

Volkswagen

  • Golf (including Golf Wagon) (model years 2009 – 2013)
  • Polo (model years 2010 – 2014)
  • Jetta (model years 2009 – 2016)
  • Passat CC (model years 2009 – 2012)
  • Volkswagen CC (model years 2012 – 2016)
  • Passat (model years 2009 – 2015)
  • Eos (model years 2009 – 2014)
  • Tiguan (model years 2008 – 2016)
  • Caddy (model years 2010 – 2016)
  • Amarok (model years 2011 – 2012)

Audi

  • A1 (model years 2010 – 2015)
  • A3 (1.6L) (model years 2009 – 2013)
  • A3 (2.0L) (model years 2011 – 2013)
  • A4 (model years 2008 – 2015)
  • A5 (model years 2012 – 2016)
  • A6 (model years 2009 – 2015)
  • Q3 (model years 2012 – 2014)
  • Q5 (CAH Engine) (model years 2009 – 2011)
  • Q5 (CGL Engine) (model years 2009 – 2016)
  • TT (model years 2009 – 2014)

Skoda

  • Octavia (model years 2008 – 2013)
  • Yeti (model years 2012 – 2016)
  • Superb (model years 2009 – 2015)

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What if my vehicle falls outside the date range?

The class action is being brought on behalf of motorists who had an interest in certain diesel Volkswagen, Audi or Skoda vehicles manufactured between 2008 and 2015, which were fitted with a defeat device.  If you have a vehicle that was manufactured before 2008 or after 2015, you are not eligible to participate in the class action.  If your eligibility for the class action changes in the future, there will be media releases to reflect this change.

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I have a petrol vehicle - am I eligible for the class action?

If you have a petrol vehicle, you are not eligible to participate in the class action.  The information we have to hand indicates that only diesel vehicles are affected. 

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I purchased my vehicle after 3 October 2015 – am I eligible for the class action?

The class actions are being brought on behalf of motorists who acquired an interest in an affected vehicle prior to 3 October 2015 (i.e, when Volkswagen confirmed Australia vehicles were affected), and still had an interest in the vehicle at that date.  If you purchased your vehicle after 3 October 2015, you are not eligible to participate in the class action.

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About Maurice Blackburn

   

Why should I choose Maurice Blackburn?

Maurice Blackburn has a hard earned and unparalleled record in conducting successful class actions in Australia. We have secured compensation for tens of thousands of claimants in a variety of cases relating to faulty products, natural disasters and corporate misconduct.

We conduct Australia’s biggest class actions and we are the only firm to have achieved class action settlements exceeding $100 million, which we have done eight times now. 

To read more about our current and past class actions, click here.

 

How can I find out more?

Call us on 1800 810 812 for further information or email your question to vw@mauriceblackburn.com.au.

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