An Australian law firm has launched a class action against Toyota, alleging it used the same type of diesel defeat devices in its vehicles that set off the Volkswagen ‘dieselgate’ saga. In response, Toyota Australia says it rejects the claims and will rigorously defend the class action in Victoria’s Supreme Court.
The new class action is in no way related to another headline-making class action centering on Toyota’s faulty diesel particulate filters (DPFs), the legal basis for which stems from a recent Federal Court decision that found against the Japanese carmaker – which it has since appealed.
Lawyers of law firm Maddens alleges Toyota Australia that it “manufactured and sold hundreds of thousands of diesel vehicles to Australian consumers that possess emission defeat devices. These electronic devices tamper with the vehicle’s emissions control system, so they perform differently in lab tests than they do in real-world driving conditions on & off the road. The result in Volkswagen’s case were vehicles that emitted far more nitrogen oxide in reality than claimed.
Toyota Australia says it utterly rejects the basis of the claim saying it “stands by its reporting, monitoring and evaluation standards in relation to the emissions for all its vehicles”. In a statement, Toyota said it will defend the class action, while it had nothing more to add given the matter would soon go before the courts.
The class action alleges that when obtaining regulatory approval for diesel cars to be sold on the Australian market, Toyota engaged in conduct which was misleading and deceptive. It is also alleged affected vehicles do not meet the standards set by Australian Consumer Law. Toyota’s truck division Hino recently admitted that it has been falsifying engine performance data for almost two decades.
According to a statement by Maddens Special Counsel Brendan Pendergast:
“If the Court finds that Toyota has been using ‘defeat devices’ then there are literally hundreds of thousands of people driving a car that simply should have never been allowed on our roads.”
The statement added that the firm was “aware of an unconnected claim against Toyota, which relates to a defect with the diesel particulate filter”, saying this separate claim does not extend to Toyota’s use of defeat devices. “The allegations in the Maddens’ class action concerning the use of defeat devices are a much broader issue and impacts a larger range of Toyota cars,” the firm claims. The vehicles affected include:
- HiLux, Prado, Fortuner, Granvia and HiAce vehicles fitted with the 2.8L 1GD-FTV engine
- HiLux fitted with the 2.4L 2GD-FTV engine
- Land Cruiser J300 fitted with the 3.3L F33A-FTV engine
- Land Cruiser 70s fitted with the 4.5L 1VD-FTV engine
- RAV4 fitted with the 2.2L 2AD-FHV or 2AD-FTV engine
Owners of allegedly affected vehicles made after February 2016 are said to be eligible to join the class action, which is being advanced by lead plaintiff Adam Rowe, on behalf of up to 500,000 allegedly affected owners.The Special Counsel Mr Pendergast claimed:
“This could completely overshadow VW’s dieselgate scandal. This class action is one of the biggest claims in Australia’s legal history. It could result in each participant receiving tens of thousands of dollars of compensation.”
Maddens and Mr Rowe are being supported by environmental, social and governance litigation firm Woodsford.
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