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VW faces suit in China over emissions scandal

The Volkswagen Group appears to be getting mired further in the diesel emissions scandal. A Chinese environmental group has sued the German carmaker over its use of software to rig emissions tests, agencies reported on Wednesday.

This is the first public interest lawsuit over the scandal in China, which happens to be VW’s biggest global market.

The emission cheating scandal that affects up to 11 million diesel cars sold globally under the VW and Audi badges has spurred investigations, lawsuits and a major leadership shakeup at the company since it was discovered in September.

That month, Volkswagen’s EA 189 diesel engine was found by the US Environment Protection Agency to have been fitted with a ‘defeat device’ — a software that modified its performance when it sensed being run in ‘test condition’ by monitoring speed, engine operation, and even steering-wheel position. The engine was used in six VW models and one Audi model.

The China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation said in a three-sentence statement on its website that it has filed a public interest suit in a court in the eastern port city of Tianjin.

The state-owned <I>China Daily</I> reported the lawsuit on Tuesday, quoting the group as saying it filed the case because VW "produced the problematic vehicles for the pursuit of higher profits and circumvented Chinese laws, which has worsened air pollution and affected public health and rights".

Volkswagen has said it made 3.2 million vehicle deliveries in China in the first 11 months of 2015. While the rigged tests only affect 1,950 vehicles in the country, China's quality watchdog said in October it was "highly concerned" about the misleading software and would take appropriate follow-up measures. The company declined to comment on the suit.