FTC sues VW over "Clean Diesel" advertising


Volkswagen TDI 'clean diesel' television ad screencap

Volkswagen TDI 'clean diesel' television ad screencap

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Volkswagen can add one more lawsuit to the growing list resulting from the ongoing diesel scandal. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is now suing the embattled German carmaker because of allegedly false claims in years of "Clean Diesel" advertising.

VW used the Clean Diesel tagline for years to sell its diesel cars and now the FTC says that constitutes false advertising. The agency in its press release said it was seeking a court order requiring VW compensate owners, as well as an injunction prevent VW from engaging in similar conduct again.

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The FTC said it will seek compensation for owners who bought or leased their TDI diesels between late 2008 and late 2015.

“Volkswagen has received the complaint and continues to cooperate with all relevant U.S. regulators, including the Federal Trade Commission," a company statement said, adding that "Our most important priority is to find a solution to the diesel emissions matter and earn back the trust of our customers and dealers as we build a better company."

Over the years, VW used the Clean Diesel tagline in print ads, on social media, and even Super Bowl spots. The FTC complaint alleges that these ads often targeted "environmentally-conscious" consumers with promises of low emissions that proved to be false.

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VW claimed its diesels met "stringent emissions requirements," were "50-state compliant" and would have high resale values, according to the FTC complaint. Of course, those cars could only meet emissions standards by cheating with the "defeat device" emissions cheating software. Some ads specifically boasted of low nitrogen-oxide emissions, the greenhouse gas at the heart of the VW scandal.

Many customers really did buy their diesels because of supposed environmental benefits, making them especially angry at VW's actions. And as the scandal enters its sixth month, the carmaker appears no closer to starting a recall to address the nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles in the U.S. that are out of compliance. VW missed a March 24 deadline set by a U.S. District Court Judge and now has until April 21 to come up with a solution.

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