Volkswagen Front

Lawsuit: Volkswagen Sold Cars in Violation of Safety Standards

April 15, 2019
Automobile manufacturer allegedly mispresented prior use of vehicles.

Volkswagen allegedly sold pre-production model vehicles that did not meet U.S. safety standards as Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) to American consumers.

A proposed federal class-action lawsuit states Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Audi of America, Inc. and their German parent companies defrauded and endangered consumers by " illegally titling, marketing and selling so-called certified pre-owned vehicles to unsuspecting customers who would have never otherwise purchased these cars or who would have paid less for such vehicles had the truth been known," according to attorney Michael J. Melkersen, whose offices filed the suit.

"Not only has Volkswagen knowingly sold cars in violation of applicable safety standards, Volkswagen tried to hide its misconduct by committing Federal Odometer Fraud by lying to consumers about when and how the mileage on these cars occurred," he said. "By providing a secret data feed to Carfax that manipulated how and when the mileage would appear in the Carfax vehicle history reports, Volkswagen and Audi were able to use Carfax to perpetrate this mileage-fraud scheme."

The models that did not comply with U.S. motor vehicle regulations are often built with non-standard parts or using assembly practices that may not meet U.S. safety standards. Pre-production vehicles can't be certified to comply with federal motor vehicle standards and are normally destroyed or exported.

The lawsuit alleges that in order to boost sales Volkswagen diverted the vehicles to its CPO program. Then, when it faced the likelihood of public scrutiny, Volkswagen engineered a "sneaky recall" that was delayed for two years until May 2018 and offered to buy back far fewer vehicles than the number allegedly sold illegally under the CPO program. 

In addition, Volkswagen allegedly intentionally misrepresented the certification, prior use and mileage of these vehicles to induce the fraudulent sale of these CPO cars, despite knowing that the cars could not legally be sold in the United States.

Court action further accuses Volkswagen of mislabeling pre-production cars as "CARFAX 1-Owner vehicles" that were actually "press vehicles" driven hard by automotive journalists and corporate pool-fleet cars driven by "a myriad of other individuals prior to being resold to consumers."

Concerned consumers who purchased a Volkswagen or Audi CPO vehicle between 2011 and present day should check their Carfax report. If the report shows the cars were originally titled in Michigan with 10 miles but were serviced on multiple dates before titling, or if there is more than a three-month gap between the date the vehicle was imported and the date it was first titled with only 10 miles, they are likely victims of the odometer fraud, Melkerson said.

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!