In September of 2015, it was public news that Volkswagen had evidence that emissions testing had been falsified. This emission cheating scandal affects over eleven billion Volkswagen cars worldwide. Of those eleven billion of cars around three point two billion were sold to China alone. The amount of cars that are affected have made this a matter of public interest according to The China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation. The group posted on their website that they had filed for a public interest suit against the Volkswagen industry. The lawsuit was filed in the city of Tianjin, which is located on the eastern port side of China. The group states Volkswagen “produced the problematic vehicles for the pursuit of higher profits and circumvented Chinese laws, which has worsened the air pollution and has affected public health and rights.”
Do they have a case? Well on January 1, 2015, China revised the Environmental Protection Laws which allowed Chinese environmental activists to start their goals to help reduce the amount of pollution in China. There are towns dubbed with the name ‘cancer villages.’ Just since October there have been a total of twenty five lawsuits filed by different environmental agencies and groups in China. China is one of the most polluted places on the earth. Some citizens have to wear masks just walking around due to the intense smog build up. China has some of the most lenient emissions laws. Now that the EPL’s have changed so have the activists strides against pollution in China. With the recent Volkswagen emission scandal, no breaks will be given. The actual amount of cars that were sold to China using the misleading software is only about 1,950 out of the 3.2 billion. Still it does pose a risk for the Volkswagen company as this could be the beginning of many more public interest lawsuits to come not just from China but other countries around the world. Cheating on emissions is nothing to fool around with and if Volkswagen knowingly did so consequences would be great. This is one of Germany’s largest industries and could possibly affect German jobs. However, Volkswagen is not directly to blame for China’s out of control pollution problems.
Volkswagen has taken actions to rectify the rigged software and those responsible. For the cars that have already been sold they have a plan to update all software on those whose vehicles were affected. German executives have apologized to China directly and the Guangzhou auto show. The former Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn resigned as a result of this scandal. Though the industry has made efforts to fix this situation it is going to be a long road. Volkswagen is aware of the lawsuit but a representative stated they have not received any on it yet.
It will be interesting to see what will happen with this lawsuit. More than likely Volkswagen will be charged with some minor offense and fines will have to be paid but nothing beyond that. China is already so polluted by their own doing that this case will not be the biggest set in by this and many more China environmentalists groups.