Volkswagen’s emissions-cheating defeat device on its diesel-powered vehicles is illegal in the U.S., but in Europe, it exists in a legal gray area. VW now argues that the defeat device is technically legal under EU law, just as the automaker is under pressure to compensate European TDI customers similarly to U.S. customers.
Citing various German publications, Reuters reports VW is pushing the legality of its TDI defeat device even as the automaker continues to repair its emissions-test-gaming diesel cars. VW’s response comes as the European Commission urges the automaker to financially compensate the estimated 8 million affected TDI owners across Europe.
“The software contained in vehicles with a EA-189 engine in the view of Volkswagen represents no unlawful defeat device under European law,” said Volkswagen, according to the Reuters news service report. “The efficiency of the emissions cleanup system will not be reduced in those vehicles which however would be a prerequisite for the existence of an unlawful defeat device in the legal sense.”
It might seem ridiculous that VW’s defeat device could technically be legal in the EU. But as we’ve reported before, EU law allows automakers to use software that can increase emissions far beyond legal limits by arguing it improves durability or protects the engine from harm. While VW is under the most scrutiny, it isn’t the only automaker to exploit this technicality.
VW has still offered to fix the affected cars in Europe, but it says it’s doing so out of generosity.
“Volkswagen wants to—in the special interest of customers—cooperate constructively and cooperatively hand in hand with the regulators as well as with the Federal Motor Vehicle Authority,” said VW. “This intensive cooperation should not be burdened by a contentious dispute.”
According to Reuters, VW has also previously questioned whether the cheating has really had any measurable health impact.
“A reliable determination of morbidity or even fatalities for certain demographic groups based on our level of knowledge is not possible from a scientific point of view,” the automaker said.
VW’s European legal fight comes as it’s preparing to spend up to $10 billion to consumers buying back 485,000 emissions-cheating diesel cars it sold in the United States From a business standpoint, it’s understandable why VW is trying to avoid offering similar compensation to European customers, even if it’s not a great public-relations stance.
This story originally appeared on Road & Track.