ECJ expert: Thermal window at VW possibly illegal

Released on 23.09. 1000

  • Volkswagen is threatened with a defeat at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the legal dispute over allegedly breach of contract defeat devices. Photo: Julian Stratenschulte

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There are three proceedings in Austria – with potentially far-reaching consequences. Does the thermal window at VW equate to an automatic switch-off device? A reviewer does not rule this out.

Luxembourg (dpa) – Volkswagen threatens a defeat at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the legal dispute over allegedly breach of contract defeat devices.

In an opinion published on Thursday by the highest European court Advocate General Athanasios Rantos takes the view that so-called thermal windows can represent a shutdown device that is illegal and therefore contrary to the contract. According to the ECJ, the software allowed higher nitrogen oxide emissions if it was colder than 15 or warmer than 33 degrees Celsius or the car was in more than 33 Altitude meters were driven.

VW had argued that these serve to protect the vehicle. According to the Wolfsburg-based company, a thermal window can still be justified if, for example, it prevents a malfunction that has an abrupt effect on the operation of the engine itself and that cannot be prevented through regular maintenance. A defeat device would then be permissible, which, according to Volkswagen, is also the case in the present proceedings.

Specifically, there are three proceedings before Austrian courts in which cars with one Software that allows more nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions at certain outside temperatures and at a certain altitude.

Because this thermal window is not representative of the actual driving conditions, as it is in Austria and Germany and other EU countries have been on average well below 15 degrees Celsius in recent years and cars are often in Advocate General Rantos concludes that these thermal windows represent a shutdown device. “If you follow the Advocate General, countless diesel cars with illegal defeat devices continue to drive on Europe’s roads,” said Sven Giegold, MP and spokesman for the German Greens in the European Parliament.

The judges at the ECJ are not bound by the reports, but often follow them. A judgment is expected in the coming months.

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