The Federal Trade Commission has filed a suit claiming that Volkswagen falsely advertised its diesel vehicles as environmentally conscientious. The FTC has been investigating VW and its use of advertisement since October, just weeks after the carmaker first admitted that around 600,000 of its diesel vehicles in the U.S. had been equipped with emissions-cheating software.
Though the FTC does not possess the legal powers to impose fines on Volkswagen, the suit will allow the FTC to be part of any eventual global settlement that is achieved in court. As part of the FTC’s false-advertising complaint, the high-resale value that had been associated with VW’s diesel vehicles was driven by the false perception that its vehicles were environmentally friendly.
The suit filed by the FTC claims that Volkswagen spent tens of millions of dollars to portray its vehicles as environmentally friendly, utilizing taglines like “‘Diesel. It’s no longer a dirty word’” in its advertisements. The FTC paid particular attention to advertisements that claimed that VW diesel vehicles reduced nitrogen oxide emissions by 90% as compared to standard gasoline vehicles. In fact, VW diesel vehicles released all the way up to 4,000% more emissions than was allowed under emissions standards in the U.S.