— A Volkswagen certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle lawsuit alleges the automaker defrauds consumers by misrepresenting the mileage, previous use and certification of used vehicles.
According to the proposed class action lawsuit, the automaker fools consumers by illegally advertising and titling VW and Audi "pre-production" cars as CPO cars.
A pre-production car allows an automaker to discover problems before the production vehicles are mass produced and sold to the public.
The plaintiffs claim starting June 1, 2011, VW advertised and sold certified pre-owned cars even though they were pre-production cars, something the plaintiffs say is a violation of federal standards.
The lawsuit also alleges Volkswagen sold corporate fleet vehicles as CPO vehicles without disclosing the cars had been tested by members of the press. VW allegedly marketed corporate fleet cars as “CARFAX 1-Owner” vehicles and charged a premium as a result of the “1-Owner” status.
However, the plaintiffs claim cars meant for numerous members of the press are less valuable than non-press vehicles.
According to the plaintiffs, the automaker also sold CPO vehicles that had been assigned to a pool of cars loaned for VW employees prior to being leased to employees.
The lease-fleet vehicles were allegedly then sold to consumers as “CARFAX 1-Owner” cars, again to gain a premium 1-owner price.
To allegedly hide the illegal activity, the lawsuit alleges Volkswagen lied about the mileage of the vehicles sold as certified pre-owned as of the date the automaker obtained the original titles of the vehicles. And according to the plaintiffs, the numbers weren't off by just a few miles.
The lawsuit alleges VW told consumers the vehicles had been driven only 10 miles at the time they were titled even though the cars had been driven thousands of miles.
"It is a common characteristic of Pre-Production Cars, Press-Fleet Cars and Pool-Fleet Cars to have been driven a substantial number of miles during the first eight months of the calendar year when those cars are first introduced to the market. This is generally not true of cars of the same series and model year that are properly certified to be sold to the public, given that these cars are not typically released for sale until the Fall." - VW Lawsuit
Based on court documents, the 2019 VW Passat is a good example as it would typically not be released for sale to the public until September or October of 2018. However, it would not be uncommon for a 2019 pre-production Passat to be released for use as a "press-fleet" car in February or March of 2018.
The lawsuit alleges a grand deception caused consumers to pay for CPO vehicles when those vehicles weren't eligible for that designation. In addition, consumers allegedly paid more based on falsified CARFAX "1-Owner" reports even though the vehicles were driven by numerous people.
Additionally, the plaintiffs claim the vehicles are pretty much worthless considering they were not properly certified based on federal safety standards, making the vehicles illegal to drive or sell.
Volkswagen admitted in 2018 it sold pre-production (test) vehicles for a period of 12 years, sometimes selling the cars as brand new vehicles.
The Volkswagen certified pre-owned vehicle class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division - Garcia, et al., v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., et al.
The plaintiffs are represented by the Law Offices of Michael J. Melkersen, P.C.