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Volkswagen hit with record 'dieselgate' Australian fine

By Hugh Wilson

Carmaker weighs appeal after court ramps up fine from previously agreed figure

Volkswagen has been slapped with the biggest fine ever imposed by Australia’s consumer watchdog over the car manufacturer’s role in the "dieselgate" emissions scandal.

The A$125m ($86m, £66m) fine adds to more than $30bn in penalties already paid out by the German company globally after it was revealed that it had cheated on diesel emissions tests.

The fine comes from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), based on 57,000 vehicles imported into the country between 2011 and 2015, all of which were installed with software aimed at deceiving emissions tests.

“Essentially, Volkswagen’s software made its diesel cars, utes and vans operate in two modes,” said Rod Sims, chair of the ACCC, “one that was designed to test well and another that operated when the vehicle was actually being used and which produced higher emissions. This was concealed from Australian regulators and the tens of thousands of Australian consumers driving these vehicles.”

The ACCC had initially agreed a fine with Volkswagen of A$75m but this was thrown out by the Federal Court in October for being too lenient.

The A$125m the court has now ordered the company to pay is the highest total penalty order ever made by the Court for contraventions of Australian Consumer Law.

The company said in a statement that it is considering an appeal. “Volkswagen AG firmly believes that the penalty of $75m agreed in principle with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to resolve the regulatory proceedings was a fair amount and is carefully reviewing the court’s reasons for deviating from that amount,” it said.

FURTHER READING: UK motorists start ‘Dieselgate’ class action against Volkswagen

FURTHER READING: Volkswagen unveils new all-electric car concept

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