VW hires BP's oil spill lawyers

  • 24/09/2015
The German company faces a tangle of lawsuits (Reuters)
The German company faces a tangle of lawsuits (Reuters)

Volkswagen cars in New Zealand may now be embroiled in the emissions scandal plaguing the company in the United States, despite previous claims to the contrary.

The German company faces a tangle of lawsuits and regulatory investigations following its admission that it intentionally sought to circumvent US pollution rules.

Volkswagen New Zealand's chief executive Tom Ruddenklau said today cars in the country may now be involved, the New Zealand Herald reports.

"Overnight more details have emerged and it seems to be a lot broader than just in the US. We still can't confirm what it means for New Zealand or what models are involved. What we are doing is still gathering information," Mr Ruddenklau said.

"Our most important job is to communicate with our customers. The most important thing is our brand and the trust of our customers."

Earlier in the week he said no Volkswagen cars sold in New Zealand had been made in the United States.

To defend itself legally, the carmaker has enlisted the law firm that defended oil giant BP following the calamitous 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The incident killed 11 men and saw millions of barrels of oil flow into Gulf waters in one of the worst environmental calamities in United States history.

In July, BP announced an US$18.7 billion settlement to compensate the US and five states for damages from the spill.

A Volkswagen spokesperson on Wednesday (local time) said Kirkland & Ellis are "a retained firm".

Volkswagen developed technology, known as a "defeat device," to allow its diesel cars to meet pollution limits during official testing but which turns off when the car is driven on the road, allowing the spewing of health-damaging emissions.

On Wednesday, Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn resigned in the wake of the scandal, saying he was "shocked by the events of the past few days".

3 News/AFP