Shares of Europe’s top carmakers fall amid dieselgate lawsuit reports

A VW Golf GTI stands in a parking lot within sight of the brand tower on the grounds of the VW plant in Wolfsburg.

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Shares of European carmakers fell on Wednesday following a report that some of the world’s largest auto manufacturers face possible lawsuits in Britain for allegedly cheating emissions tests.

Shares of German automaker Porsche slipped by over 6% at around 11:40 a.m. London time, leading losses on the pan-European Stoxx 600 index.

German carmakers including BMW, Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz were all trading more than 1% lower, while Sweden’s Volvo Cars dipped 2.7%. France’s Valeo and Fiat-owner Stellantis fell 1.6% and 0.3%, respectively.

It comes as the European Union imposed import tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles and after Reuters reported Tuesday that carmakers are facing 1.5 million “dieselgate” lawsuits in Britain that could cost them at least ₤6 billion ($7.65 billion).

Manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz and U.S. carmaker Ford were alleged to have misled customers about some vehicles’ compliance with nitrogen oxide emissions standards, the report said, citing claimants’ lawyers in London’s High Court on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Ford told CNBC that they see “no merit” in the claims and the carmaker was “robustly defending against them.” They added: “Our vehicles and engines meet all applicable emissions requirements.”

A spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz was not immediately available to comment when contacted by CNBC on Wednesday morning.

The “dieselgate” emissions scandal refers to reports that first surfaced in 2015 that Volkswagen had been caught cheating on emissions tests in the U.S. Volkswagen admitted installing so-called “defeat devices” to change diesel vehicles’ emissions levels during testing.

Volkswagen said in 2020 that the scandal had cost the company more than 31 billion euros ($33.3 billion) in fines and settlements.

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