Chinese environmental group sues Volkswagen over emissions scandal

Volkswagen's Bora and Jetta models are displayed outside a dealer in Beijing on Oct 1.
Volkswagen's Bora and Jetta models are displayed outside a dealer in Beijing on Oct 1.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - A Chinese environmental group said it has sued Volkswagen AG over its use of software to rig emissions tests, in what state-owned media calls the first public interest lawsuit over the scandal in the German company's biggest global market.

The Volkswagen emission cheating scandal that affects up to 11 million diesel cars globally has spurred investigations, lawsuits and a major leadership shakeup at the company since it was first discovered in September.

The China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation said in a three-sentence statement on its website that it has filed a public interest suit in a court in the eastern port city of Tianjin.

State-owned China Daily reported the lawsuit on Tuesday (Dec 15), quoting the group as saying it had filed the case because VW "produced the problematic vehicles for the pursuit of higher profits and circumvented Chinese laws, which has worsened the air pollution and affected public health and rights".

Volkswagen has said it made 3.2 million vehicle deliveries in China in the first 11 months of 2015. While the rigged tests only affect 1,950 vehicles in the country, China's quality watchdog said in October that it was "highly concerned" about the misleading software and would take appropriate follow-up measures.

A Volkswagen spokesman declined to immediately comment on the suit.

Executives at the German automaker apologised to Chinese consumers about the scandal at events connected to November's Guangzhou auto show.