EU legal adviser says VW software is banned 'defeat device'

Audacy - The Associated Press

BRUSSELS (AP) — A top European Union legal adviser said Thursday that software installed in Volkswagen cars to alter the amount of pollutants coming out of their exhaust pipes in hot or cold weather and at high altitude doesn't conform to the 27-nation bloc’s laws.

The case arose when Austrian courts asked the European Court of Justice to rule on whether the software made by Volkswagen, which also includes Porsche, constitutes a “defeat device” that could be used to cheat on car emissions tests.

In a legal opinion for the Luxembourg-based ECJ, European Court of Justice, Advocate General Athanasios Rantos said that “the software at issue reduces the effectiveness of the emission control system in normal vehicle operation and use, with the result that it constitutes a ‘defeat device.’”

His legal opinion, which also said that the software cannot be justified as a way to protect car engines, is not binding on the ECJ, but Europe’s top court does follow such advice in most cases.

The VW software reduces the purification of exhaust gases, chiefly nitrogen oxide, when the weather is colder than 15 C (59 F) or climbs above 33 C (91.4 F), as well as when the vehicle is driven at an altitude of 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) or more.

Rantos said that the temperature window when the exhaust fumes were being cleaned “is not representative of real driving conditions” because temperatures often drop below 15 C (59 F) in Austria and Germany, where cars are also routinely driven at higher altitude.

Should the ECJ act in line with Rantos’ opinion when it rules in