Volkswagen faces possible recalls after environmental NGO wins emissions software lawsuit

A Volkswagen logo is pictured in a production line at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg
A Volkswagen logo is pictured in a production line at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg, Germany March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

HAMBURG, Feb 20 (Reuters) - A German court on Monday ruled in favour of an environmental NGO's lawsuit against the federal motor authority for releasing cars with software on exhaust gas recirculation it argues is illegal, in a judgement which could lead to a wave of recalls.

The NGO, Deutsche Umwelthilfe, is calling for Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) Golf vehicles to be recalled because of software manipulation to emissions mechanisms, alleging the KBA authority should never have allowed these vehicles to be released to the market.

"The case was effectively successful," a court spokesperson said, meaning the decision by the authority to release the vehicles must be revoked.

The DUH is planning further cases against the KBA involving BMW (BMWG.DE), Volkswagen, and Mercedes-Benz (MBGn.DE) vehicles which, if successful, could mean up to ten million cars which KBA authorised would need to be recalled, the NGO said.

Volkswagen said in a statement it would wait to receive the full reasoning of the court to decide on next steps.

The European Court of Justice last November backed the rights of environmental associations to take such actions against EU vehicle approvals on the basis of DUH's lawsuit, which was initially rejected by the Schleswig administrative court in 2017.

The ruling concerns software Volkswagen installed to control the recirculation of exhaust gases, which EU courts have said is illegal in certain conditions but Volkswagen views as in line with the law.

Reporting by Jan Schwartz, Writing by Victoria Waldersee, Editing by Chris Reese

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