Toyota Australia defends $1b class action over emissions reporting

Alexi Falson

Automotive giant Toyota says that it will defend a class-action lawsuit lodged in Victoria’s Supreme Court earlier this week that alleges it mislead customers over emissions data.

The class action alleges that Toyota used defeat devices that mislead Australian regulators as to the emissions data of some of its most popular diesel-powered models.

Models like the HiLux, LandCruiser 200 Series, Prado, HiAce, Granvia and the Fortuner produced since February 2016 have all been implicated in the lawsuit, whether they were purchased new or second-hand.

The law firm heading the class action, Maddens Lawyers, have lodged the suit in Victoria’s Supreme Court, who are eyeing-off a potential payout valued at $1 billion.

Special counsel at Maddens Lawyers, Brendan Pendergast, said that Toyota used both “sophisticated engineering” and “multiple sensors” while under test conditions to ensure its vehicles met Australian emissions standards. He explained:

“We allege that not through accident, but through deliberate engineering intervention, these vehicles are fitted with what are generically called defeat devices. When the vehicle comes under load or achieves speeds commonly required in the usual purchaser of a vehicle, the vehicle no longer complies with the emission standards.”

The basis for a pay-out, according to Pendergast, is that Toyota customers were misled and were making their purchase under false pretences. He concluded: “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.”

In response, Toyota has issued a short statement stating that the company will “rigorously” defend the class action. In a statement on Tuesday, October 18, Toyota Australia said:

“Toyota Australia stands by its reporting, monitoring and evaluation standards in relation to the emissions for all its vehicles. We will defend the class action announced today rigorously. As this matter is before the courts, we have no further comment.”

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