Two Indian subsidiaries of German carmaker Volkswagen group have been booked for allegedly selling seven Audi cars fitted with "cheat devices" able to deceive excessive pollution emission tests to a Noida businessman, police said on Friday.
The FIR lodged in Sector 20 police station of Noida against carmakers Audi India and Skoda Auto-Volkswagen India on charges of forgery and cheating also names their top officials and parent company in Germany, said police. Businessman Aniljit Singh said in his complaint that he was sold "substandard" vehicles after misrepresentation of facts on emission. He said he bought the cars in 2016, costing him crores of rupees.
He alleged the carmakers "induced" him into buying their vehicles and he bought them with an "impression" that they were compliant with the latest emission norms of the country. "However, these were substandard vehicles fitted with cheat devices," Singh said in his complaint, adding he was duped by the company on disclosure of pollution emission by its vehicles at the time of sale.
When contacted, a spokesperson for SAVW Group, however, denied the allegations and claimed: "Vehicles from our group are compliant with the emission norms prescribed in India." The FIR names as accused Noida-based firms Audi India, Skoda Auto, Volkswagen India and Volkswagen India besides Audi AG and Volkswagen AG of Germany.
The top officials of the multinational firm, who have been named in the FIR, are Audi India's country head Balbir Singh Dhillon, its brand director Rahil Ansari, its sales chief Nitin Kohli and Volkswagen India's managing director Gurpratap Boparai, a copy of the FIR accessed by PTI revealed. The other officials are Audi AG chairman Bram Schot, its overseas distribution head Michael Friscii and Volkswagen AG CEO Herbert Diess.
Businessman Singh also cited in the FIR what is now popularly known as the "Volkswagen Emission Scandal" or the "diesel dupe" involving the violation of environmental norms by automobile giant by the installation of "cheat device" on its cars, able to deceive pollution emission tests. India's National Green Tribunal (NGT) had in March 2019 too slapped a fine of Rs 500 crore on German auto major Volkswagen for damaging the environment through the use of "cheat device" in its diesel cars in India.
"It was after the NGT order that the complainant realized that he has been duped of his hard-earned money by the accused persons as they had misrepresented him about the quality of their expensive cars by making false representation and forging the documents and devices," the FIR stated. Accordingly, the "complainant was induced into buying their cars and resultantly the accused persons have caused wrongful gain to themselves and wrongful loss to the complainant", the FIR stated.
A senior officer of Noida Police said the investigation has been taken up and if needed, officials of Volkswagen group, including those in Germany, could be summoned for questioning. "Yes, the FIR has been lodged at the Sector 20 police station based on the complaint given by the complainant. The investigation has been taken up, and whether the allegations against the car companies are true will be ascertained only after the probe," Noida Deputy Commissioner of Police Sankalp Sharma told PTI.
He added, "If required, the accused persons and company officials could be summoned to Noida for joining the investigation."