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Lawyers weigh in on VW diesel scandal

VW diesel owners could get compensation, say Australian lawyers

As the Volkswagen diesel crisis reaches its fifth day, lawyers are lining up to find out if cars sold locally are affected.

Car giant Volkswagen may face a class action from disgruntled owners in Australia if the diesel scandal is found to impact vehicles sold locally.

As the crisis enters its fifth day, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers have announced an investigation into a potential Australian consumer law action against the troubled car maker.

VW has admitted it fitted software designed to cheat emissions tests in 11 million cars globally, including diesel versions of the VW Golf hatch, Tiguan SUV and Passat sedan and wagon made from 2009 to 2015.

It was busted breaching strict US rules but has since admitted it flouted European regulations as well.

Related: Is BMW about to join VW diesel scandal?

More: ACCC lasunches investigation into VW diesel scandal

Also: Does the VW diesel scandal affect you

As VW prepares for a massive cleanout of its top executives -- and while Australian owners continue to be left in the dark -- Maurice Blackburn class actions principal Damian Scattini said it was “likely” local buyers would be hit by the scandal.

Although Australia has weaker anti-pollution laws, they are unlikely to be 35 times weaker than those in the US -- some VW cars were found to be 35 times over the limit for toxic emissions.

“Disappointingly we are still yet to see anything definitive from Volkswagen about the impacts for Australian consumers, and if any cars here have been affected,” said Mr Scattini.

“However, if cars here have been affected then people have not got what they paid for and we believe they may have grounds for a consumer action.”

Volkswagen is yet to confirm how many cars are affected locally, if at all.

Mr Scattini said many people “have bought these cars thinking they were getting a clean, green car with good mileage but it is looking increasingly likely that for many people worldwide that is not the case”.

If VW confirms that cars in Australia have been affected “then it is likely these cars will be worth significantly less for consumers trying to sell at a later date”.

“Given this, we believe that if it is confirmed that Australian cars are impacted then consumers may have grounds to take action against Volkswagen, including pushing for extended warranties given people as yet are still in the dark about the full impacts of this issue,” said Mr Scattini.

“We urge Volkswagen to come forward as soon as possible to confirm if cars in Australia have been affected and what actions they are intending to take. We will also be closely monitoring the outcome of the ACCC’s investigation into this matter."

Volkswagen is yet to confirm how many cars are affected locally, if at all. But a News Corp Australia investigation has found more than 50,000 diesel versions of the Golf, Tiguan and Passat were sold from 2009 to 2015.

Volkswagen has confirmed Audi and Skoda models with the same diesel engine will also be roped into the recall.