Green Panel Pulls Up Volkswagen Over Recall Of Over 3 Lakh Cars In India

NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal has directed German auto major Volkswagen, embroiled in an emission scandal, to submit a road map with regard to recall of over 3.23 lakh vehicles in the country. Volkswagen India had in December 2015 announced recall of 3,23,700 lakh vehicles to fix the emission software after Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) conducted tests on some models and found “on road” emissions from its cars were 1.1 times to 2.6 times higher than applicable BS-IV norms. The automobile giant had admitted use of “defeat device” in 11 million diesel engine cars sold in the US, Europe and other global markets that allowed manipulation of emissions tests by changing the performance of vehicles to improve results.

Following the tests, Volkswagen India had undertaken to rejig the software by recalling around 3.23 lakh vehicles fitted with EA 189 diesel engines which were in alleged violation of emission norms.

The company, however, had said that the recall in India was purely voluntary in nature as it did not face any charges regarding violating emission norms in India unlike in the US. The counsel for the car manufacturer told the NGT that ARAI, which is being consulted on the redesign of the software, had approved it for only 70 per cent of the 3.23 lakh vehicles.

ARAI, however, said Volkswagen had submitted redesigned software for only 70 per cent and was yet to do so for the remaining 30 per cent.

“During the course of the hearing we take note of the fact that the Respondent No 4 (Volkswagen) has not only in its statement of reply but otherwise also offered to voluntary recall all the vehicle which are subject matter of these proceedings i.e. fitted with E189 diesel engine to different variant mentioned in the application.”

“However, on ascertaining the factual position we are informed that the process of recall is not complete for the reason though Respondent No. 4 and other respondent have been requested by ARAI to submit its redesign as only 70 per cent has been approved.”

“Respondent nos 4 to 7 shall file road map with regard to recalling of the vehicle in question. In the meanwhile, we direct ARAI to file submission with regard to present status of the recall program of the vehicle in question,” a bench headed by Justice Jawad Rahim said while posting the matter for hearing on March 10.

The tribunal was hearing pleas filed by a school teacher Saloni Ailawadi and few city residents seeking ban on sale of its vehicles for alleged violation of emission norms.

The NGT also impleaded Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) as parties in the case.

In June last year, Volkswagen had said it will recall 1.90 lakh cars sold in the country out of the 3.23 lakh vehicles as announced to fix the emission software and communication would be sent to the customers regarding this.

Earlier, the Indian arm of German auto major Volkswagen, which had denied installing “cheat device” in their cars, faced searching questions from the NGT which came down heavily on it for violation of emission norms in the country.

A cheat or defeat device is a software in diesel engines to manipulate emission tests by changing performance of cars.