The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is today providing an update on its investigation into Volkswagen Group (VW) for possible use of ‘defeat devices’ in Australia, following significant public interest.

Defeat devices can be used to make vehicles perform better in testing than in real world operations.

“This enforcement investigation is a priority for the ACCC. We are very concerned about the potential consumer and competition detriment from this alleged conduct,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“First, using defeat devices is specifically prohibited under the Australian Design Rules, which are picked up as Australian Consumer Law (ACL) mandatory safety standards.”

“As the enforcer of the ACL, the ACCC can take action against any corporation that has breached mandatory standards,” Mr Sims said.

“Secondly, cars are a big purchasing decision and claims that relate to environmental benefits or fuel efficiency can influence consumer choice.”

“Businesses must be able to substantiate any claims they make. The ACCC will be seeking marketing materials from VW Group and will not hesitate to take action if consumers were exposed to false, misleading or deceptive representations,” Mr Sims said.

The maximum penalty per breach of the ACL is $1.1 million for a corporation.

VW Australia is yet to clarify if it has supplied cars or car components into the Australian market that use defeat devices.

The ACCC is considering public comments made by Audi Australia on how their Australian customers are affected.

The ACCC continues to work closely with the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development to determine the impact on Australian consumers.