VW emission feud sparks legal action

Porsche Austria Holding GmbH (PH) has vowed to take the Austrian Traffic Club (VCÖ) to court as political leaders and non-government organisations (NGO) unite behind the traffic research group.PH announced it will sue VCÖ for providing allegedly incorrect data concerning carbon emission rates of Volkswagen (VW) models. PH, which is based in Salzburg, is part of VW. The German company – Europe’s busiest car manufacturer – paid 3.3 billion Euros to acquire PH earlier this month.PH – which is Austria’s biggest car dealer and the main importer of VW vehicles – accuses the VCÖ of using incorrect information in listing emission figures of VW models.Greens MP Gabriela Moser fumed: “This is a global brand’s attempt to silence a critic.”Moser stressed today (Tues) that the VC֒s figures were based on data provided by the European Commission (EC) based on a survey by pressure group Transport & Environment (T&E)). She said: “The information reveals that VW takes an embarrassing 12th place among 14 tested producers.”The Austrian Social Democrats (SPÖ) as well as NGOs like Greenpeace and GLOBAL 2000 also signalled support for the VCÖ, which is an independent research organisation which promotes eco-friendly travelling.SPÖ Vienna official Rudi Schicker said: “I got to know the VCÖ as a reliable and earnest partner which provides essential information considering traffic in Vienna.”The party’s Vienna Environment Councillor Ulli Sima announced: “Porsche’s attempts to intimitate (the VCÖ) are scandalous.”Greens Vienna Vice-Mayor Maria Vassilakou called on PH – which branded the T&E research as “scientifically incorrect” – to withdraw the lawsuit. The company however pointed out today it was determined to press omission charges against the VCÖ.More than 1,600 people signed an online petition supporting the VCÖ in the issue.Overall 25,548 new cars were sold in Austria in January, 22.5 per cent more than in the same month of 2010. VW has dominated the domestic market for many years. The Wolfsburg-based producer sold more than 55,000 cars in Austria in 2010, helping the firm to a market share of around 17 per cent.Meanwhile, the fine dust level and greenhouse gas emission amounts are on the rise.Political decision-makers in Graz, Vienna and other cities with an especially high fine dust pollution level are expected to implement tougher laws considering old cars and household coal-burning systems and higher subsidies for the purchase of electric cars (e-cars).Excessive amounts of fine dust in the air can lead to lung cancer, cardiac disease and other sicknesses. Around 2,400 deaths are linked to effects of fine dust in Austria every year. Studies show that the life expectancy of Graz citizens is slashed by an average 17 months due to the consistently high amounts of the particles.The amount of greenhouse gas emissions in Austria is expected to increase further in the coming years despite soaring fuel prices as the amount of cargo transported on the roads is set to rise due to the fast recovery of the domestic economy.