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Dieselgate: Opel to appeal diesel recall
ordered by German transport authority

BERLIN Germany (Xinhua) -- Opel will appeal a mandatory recall ordered by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) for certain types of diesel vehicles which were allegedly fitted with illicit defeat devices, the Ruesselsheim-based carmaker confirmed on Friday.

The German magazine SPIEGEL reported that Opel sought to prevent an immediate recall of nearly 100,000 diesel vehicles from traffic by legal appeal.

According to a spokesperson for the responsible Schleswig Administrative Court, a decision in the case is expected to be reached between late November and early December.

The German transport authority recently ordered the mandatory recall for 96,000 Opel vehicles built between 2013 and 2016 in response to suspected emissions-cheating practices.

Unlike its larger domestic rivals Volkswagen and Daimler, the PSA subsidiary had so far evaded formal judicial scrutiny in the dieselgate scandal.

During a hearing at the ministry of transport back in July, Opel was asked to provide information about the function of exhaust system defeat devices in three of its models.

A spokesperson for the ministry said at the time that it was too early to reach conclusions about the "legitimacy" of the technology in question.

The subsequently-ordered recall affects Opel Insignia, Zafira and Cascada models in which the KBA said it discovered motor software which understated actual NOx emissions during normal operations, a claim that was rejected by Opel.


Dieselgate: Opel to appeal diesel recall ordered by German transport authority | Coastweek

The Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) estimates that diesel cars are responsible for more than 50 percent of harmful NOx emissions in Germany.

Opel is currently in the midst of a closely-watched struggle to improve profitability at the 156-year-old firm.

The carmaker wants to focus on producing lower volumes of vehicles with higher profit margins in the future and has launched a far-reaching program of corporate reforms since being acquired by PSA in 2017.


Audi earnings slump in Q3 due to ‘extraordinary factors’

BERLIN Germany (Xinhua) -- Audi’s earnings slumped as a consequence of "extraordinary factors" during the third quarter (Q3) of 2018, figures published on Wednesday by the German luxury carmaker and Volkswagen Group subsidiary show.

Gross revenue and vehicle deliveries both fell from 14 billion euros to 13 billion euros and from 471,780 units to 458,488 units respectively between Q3 2017 and Q3 2018.

During the same period, Audi’s operating profit including special items collapsed from 1.26 billion euros to 110 million euros.

"The third quarter of this year featured numerous adverse factors for the Audi Group:

"As expected, restrictions in the sales portfolio caused by the changeover to WLTP had an increasingly negative effect", according to a statement published by Audi.

Aside from the new exhaust systems testing standard, the Ingolstadt-based company highlighted the imposition of an 800-million-euro "dieselgate" fine by German prosecutors and the "broadest model initiative in Audi’s history" as circumstances which undermined its quarterly earnings performance.

Audi also said, however, that group revenue of 44.25 billion euros for the period from January through September has held steady at the previous year’s level.

As predicted earlier by Audi and experienced by several major carmakers during the past months, a difficult transition to the Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) certification standard provided particularly damaging to the company’s production volumes and finances in Q3.

On Tuesday, the Volkswagen Group’ flagship brand Volkswagen blamed a similar decline in vehicle sales and deliveries on the impact of the regulatory change in Q3.

German Porsche SE ordered to pay 50 mln euros in 'dieselgate' compensation

BERLIN Germany (Xinhua) -- Porsche SE, the German holding company which owns the majority of voting rights in the publicly-listed Volkswagen Group, was ordered on Wednesday to pay investors around 50 million euros (56.98 million U.S. dollars) in compensation for its conduct in the "dieselgate" scandal.

Judge Fabian Reuschle of the Stuttgart Regional Court announced that Porsche SE was found to have acted in breach of its public disclosure duties with regards to emissions-cheating practices at Volkswagen during a class-action lawsuit.

The former Volkswagen Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Martin Winterkorn, who simultaneously acted as the head of the Porsche SE management board, had at the very least demonstrated serious neglect in his role.

Reuschle followed the argumentation of plaintiffs that knowledge obtained by Winterkorn as Volkswagen CEO must have been available to Porsche SE as well.

As a consequence, the holding company should have issued a profit warning to investors as early as May 2014 following first internal revelations about the installation of illicit motor software in diesel vehicles.

The law firm Nieding + Barth told press that it had secured damages worth 2.3 million euros (2.6 million U.S. dollars) for the pensions fund of the British city of Wolverhampton which it represented against Porsche SE.

Other plaintiffs represented by the attorney Josef Broich were awarded a combined 44 million euros according to Broich’s partnered law firm Tilp.

Notably, however, the verdict is not yet legally binding.

Porsche SE has already criticized the ruling as unjustified and said it would file an appeal.

The company argues that Winterkorn had a duty of confidentiality in his dual role at Volkswagen and the holding company and hence could not inform it about internal proceedings at the former.

The lawsuit in Stuttgart is only one of several ongoing compensation cases involving Porsche SE at the regional court.

Although Porsche SE is headquartered nearby, it remains a matter of dispute whether such claims must actually be made in the framework of a larger so-called "template lawsuit" against Volkswagen which is currently being deliberated at the Braunschweig Higher Regional court rather than in individual lawsuits.

So-called "template lawsuits", in which several plaintiffs unite to press charges collectively and resolve key questions to set a legal precedent, were only recently enabled by new federal legislation passed in response to the ongoing "dieselgate" scandal.

In closely-watched and still ongoing court proceedings of this category in Braunschweig, a group of investors are demanding billions of euros in compensation from the Volkswagen itself.

Porsche SE was first established by the engineer and automotive industry pioneer Ferdinand Porsche in 1931 who also founded the modern Volkswagen corporation.

The holding company is owned to 50 percent by his descendants from the Porsche and Piech families who are widely considered to be amongst Europe’s wealthiest with a combined net worth of approximately 39 billion euros. Enditem (1 euro =1.14 U.S. dollars).

Court orders another German city to prepare bans on diesel vehicles

BERLIN Germany (Xinhua) -- Mainz has become the latest of several German cities where courts have ordered policymakers to prepare to ban diesel vehicles to improve urban air quality.

According to a verdict by the Mainz Administrative Court published on Wednesday, the city must include driving bans in its next official plan to ensure compliance with European Union (EU) clean air legislation.

If the regulatory limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions levels set by the bloc are not abided by during the first six months of 2019, the new measures must then automatically take force from September 2019 onwards at the latest.

City of Mainz officials have promised to meet the NO2 limit of 40 micrograms per cubic meter at the most polluted measuring point near the main railway station by the end of 2019.

The verdict in the closely-watched court case mostly followed a pattern already seen in other cities such as Hamburg, Stuttgart, Berlin and Frankfurt where judges have ordered cities in breach of EU pollution limits to impose full or partial driving bans as a last resort.

While generally siding German Environmental Aid (DUH) lobby group as the plaintiff against the city of Mainz, the latest ruling left open, however, whether only individual streets or the entire municipal area would be affected.

Commenting on the development, DUH president Juergen Resch said his organization was "very happy" with what it hoped would be a wake-up call for politicians who had been inactive on the issue.

The DUH has filed dozens of similar lawsuits in the wake of a landmark ruling by the Federal Administrative Court which enabled cities to unilaterally impose diesel driving bans.

During the ongoing "dieselgate" emissions-cheating scandal, major German carmakers such as Volkswagen and Daimler were found to have installed illicit defeat devices to understate NOx emissions in millions of diesel vehicles sold to customers.

Large majority of Germans oppose Merkel’s ‘dieselgate’ policy

BERLIN Germany (Xinhua) -- A large majority of German citizens are dissatisfied with a new "dieselgate" policy initiative of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) to prevent driving bans in cities, a YouGov opinion poll published on Tuesday by the German press agency (dpa) finds.

Nearly two thirds of respondents (65 percent) indicated that Merkel was not acting decisively enough to protect the interests of diesel drivers.

A further 72 percent said they had no faith that the federal government and automotive industry would eventually reach a compromise to prevent driving bans as a last resort to improve urban air quality.

The findings were based on a representative online survey of 2,043 voters in Germany which was conducted by the YouGov institute.

Merkel has recently announced that the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) would seek to pass legislation to prevent the widespread imposition of diesel driving bans in German cities.

The party considered outright bans on diesel vehicles to be a disproportionate in most cases and would instead advocate for a change to relevant laws in a way which re-directed policy efforts towards other, less radical, solutions.

The chancellor’s announcement came just a few weeks after the ruling "grand coalition" unveiled a further "dieselgate" policy package aimed to lower Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions in 14 particularly-affected cities with fleet renewal incentives and technical retrofitting, so-called "hardware upgrades", of vehicles.

Carmakers have so far made little signs offering their support to hardware upgrades, however, raising doubts over whether court-ordered diesel driving bans in Hamburg, Berlin, Stuttgart and Frankfurt can still be averted.

The YouGov survey on Tuesday suggested that voters had mixed feelings about the latest measures adopted by the government in response to the diesel emissions scandal.

Around two thirds (66 percent) considered technical retrofitting to be "sensible or very sensible", while only 37 percent gave the same seal of approval to fleet-renewal incentives such as "swapping premiums" and other sales discounts.

When asked in the poll to give two responses, the biggest concern of citizens identified in the context of the "dieselgate" scandal was clean air in German cities (48 percent). Meanwhile, 37 percent said that driving bans were the biggest problem created by high NOx emissions levels, ahead of depreciations in the value of older diesel vehicles (32 percent).

The results were released ahead of a closely-watched regional elections in the state of Hesse this weekend, where the grand coalition parties CDU and German Social Democrats (SPD) are both predicted to suffer heavy losses in voter share.

Fresh court deliberations over another potential diesel driving ban in the city of Mainz are scheduled to open Wednesday.


German carmaker Audi fined 800 million euros over ‘dieselgate’ cheating scandal


Volkswagen growing out of cheating crisis with third-quarter profit boost

Opinion: The war on German automobiles is seen as 'a war on freedom'



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