The Federal Trade Commission has sued Volkswagen for deceptive advertising in relation to its ‘clean diesel’ claim, with the aim of securing compensation for those who have purchased the vehicles which earned their ‘clean chit’ by unfair means.

Following on the automobile major’s deliberate use of the so-called “defeat devices” to cheat on emissions tests, the Commission has accused the Volkswagen Group of America of violating the FTC Act’s prohibition against “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.”

A compelling advertisement campaign was run for these cars between the years 2008 and 2015, positioning them as “clean” alternatives that offered the high mileage of a traditional diesel vehicle without the attendant emission issues. These cars supposedly met “the strictest EPA standards in the U.S.” and were compliant with emission standards in all 50 states.

During the seven years in question, VW sold around 550,000 “clean diesel” vehicles to become USA’s biggest seller of light-diesel cars.

“For years Volkswagen’s ads touted the company’s ‘Clean Diesel’ cars even though it now appears Volkswagen rigged the cars with devices designed to defeat emission tests,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in a statement. “Our lawsuit seeks compensation for the consumers who bought affected cars based on Volkswagen’s deceptive and unfair practices.”

The specific vehicles included in the complaint are the model-year 2009 through 2015 Volkswagen TDI diesel versions of VW’s Jetta, Passat, and Touareg, along with all TDI Audi models.

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