The German Environmental Aid has documents that incriminate Bosch in the diesel scandal. While the car industry refers to existing judgments, DUH boss Resch sees new opportunities for car owners to sue for damages.
The German Environmental Aid accuses the German car companies and their supplier Bosch of having been aware early on that their controversial technology for diesel exhaust gas cleaning was illegal. Audi, Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW and Bosch knew from the start that the defeat devices violated official regulations, the DUH explained. She relies on documents from the years 2006 to 2015 that were leaked to her in the summer and which she forwarded to the Stuttgart public prosecutor.
"We are concerned with people's health," emphasized DUH boss Jürgen Resch. In Germany there are still 70,000 premature deaths a year due to excessive air pollution. The Stuttgart public prosecutor stated that the documents had been taken into account in the diesel fine proceedings against Bosch, which were completed in 2019. After the DUH documents have been handed over, no new preliminary investigation will be initiated.
Minutes and slides from meetings show that the automotive supplier has repeatedly pointed out the legal risks associated with the technology commissioned by the car companies. Among other things, this involves a temperature-dependent throttling of exhaust gas cleaning, which led to nitrogen oxide emissions well above the limit value. The car manufacturers saw them covered by EU legislation, which allowed this if engine damage was otherwise imminent. According to the DUH, one of the documents states that this reduction was "beyond component protection reasons". Bosch has made sure that it does not bear legal responsibility. The "application responsibility and justification of the function itself lies with the customer," quoted the DUH.
When the fine of 90 million euros was imposed on Bosch three years ago, the public prosecutor found "that the initiative for the integration and design of software strategies accused of being inadmissible came from employees of other companies." In fine proceedings against the car manufacturers, the authorities imposed higher penalties. The Volkswagen Group, where the diesel scandal broke out in 2015, had to pay a billion euros, Audi, Porsche and Daimler high three-digit millions.
Volkswagen also stated that the investigation into the diesel issue had long ended. According to the decisions of the European Court of Justice, the thermal windows are still permitted because they serve to protect the engine. "The supervisory authorities, such as the Federal Motor Transport Authority, also share this view unchanged."
The DUH wants to use the documents to substantiate its lawsuit against the KBA before the Schleswig-Holstein Administrative Court. From the point of view of the DUH, the office allowed an illegal defeat device to pass in a VW Golf as in more than 100 other type approvals. DUH boss Resch expects a success in court. Then five to six million diesel cars would have to be repaired or taken off the road and their owners compensated. The environmental lobby sees the documents as a "smoking gun" that will provide car owners with new ammunition in lawsuits for damages.
Unlike the VW software, which differentiated between the test bench and driving, the Federal Court of Justice did not classify the temperature-controlled exhaust gas cleaning as fraud. The plaintiffs were unable to prove that the car manufacturers intentionally harmed their customers in an immoral manner. "In my opinion, the courts' finding that the car manufacturers made a prohibition error can no longer be upheld," explained DUH traffic expert Axel Friedrich.