Two big class action lawsuits in Australia against The Volkswagen Group and Audi have been settled. ABC reports that the vehicle manufacturers have agreed to pay between $87 million and $127.1 million, which works out to about $1,400 per affected vehicle. Details have not been made public and the settlement still must be approved by the Federal Court.
The lawsuits—filed in November 2015 by Bannister Law and Maurice Blackburn—claimed that the two companies secretly installed illegal devices that enabled their vehicles to cheat emissions tests, deliberately misleading about 100,000 Australian customers.
“We bought the car thinking that all the regulations had been passed, that everything was done, that there were no problems with the vehicle,” plaintiff Richard Cantor said. “I didn’t think at any time that VW could walk away without having done anything because clearly they were wrong.”
Previous class action suits over the same issue in the United States and Canada were also successful, with Volkswagen settling the American lawsuit for a whopping, record-breaking $14.7 billion USD. Overall, the scandal has cost VW more than $42 billion; some executives were prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned. A rare case of corporate leaders actually being held responsible for their malfeasance.
Volkswagen Group Australia released a statement in which it called the settlement a “significant step towards fully resolving the diesel lawsuits in Australia,” adding that “The settlement, on a no-admissions basis, concerns five class-action lawsuits covering all affected vehicles in Australia.”
“Volkswagen expects the proceedings will be concluded in 2020,” the company said.
Meanwhile, VW is still fighting a criminal complaint filed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. There is a possibility that that one will actually go to trial.