Italian Court gives green light to fuel consumption action against Fiat

BEUC NEWS - 19.11.2015

On Tuesday 17 November, the court of appeal of Turin (Italy) admitted a group action against car maker Fiat on the grounds of misleading fuel consumption claims1. The aim of the court case is for affected car owners to be compensated for those statements.

The group action was initiated by Italian consumer group and BEUC member Altroconsumo2.

Monique Goyens, Director General of The European Consumer Organisation, commented:

“It is only fair that consumers finally will have a chance to reclaim bloated fuel costs in court because of rigged consumption tests. Car makers have been let of the hook for too long, knowing only too well that the odds are stacked against consumers to hold them to account.

“The case against Fiat also heaps further pressure on the European Commission and Member States to urgently put in place a more robust testing regime with reliable test procedures and strong oversight measures so as to deter car makers from exploiting test loopholes.”

The Italian court decision comes on the back of the Volkswagen defeat device and CO2/fuel consumption scandal. Owners of affected vehicles are still in the dark about how recalls will be carried out and whether the company will provide compensation for any consumer detriment. 

1 The decision of the Court of Appeal overruled an earlier decision taken by the court of Turin in July this year. This is the first step that must be taken under legal proceedings in Italy.

2 The group action against Fiat is based on tests carried out last year on the vehicle model ‘Fiat Panda 1.2 51 KW 120 CO2’. The Fiat, tested following official test procedures, consumed up to 20% more fuel than according to official declarations. Altroconsumo estimates that owners of the vehicle spent around €2392 more per year on fuel costs than would otherwise be expected from the official claims made by Fiat. Following the same tests, a decision of the Court of Venice is expected imminently on whether or not a group action on misleading fuel consumption claims brought against Volkswagen in February by Altroconsumo will also be allowed to progress. For more information: http://www.beuc.eu/publications/beuc-x-2014-067_qa_on_misleading_fuel_consumption_claims_and_testing_procedures.pdf