By on June 23, 2016


A Seattle law firm famous for going after automakers (and lately, diesel-producing automakers) has another target in its sights: General Motors.

According to The Detroit News, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro filed a class-action lawsuit in California yesterday, accusing GM and Chevrolet of misleading buyers of Chevy Cruze models equipped with the 2.0-liter diesel engine.

Much like in its two suits against Daimler, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, the firm accuses GM of using software to cheat on emissions tests, citing high emissions recorded during real-world testing. The six plaintiffs behind the suit want a vehicle buyback, reimbursement for the premium they paid over a regular Cruze, and punitive damages.

Chevrolet briefly offered a diesel version of the 2014 and 2015 model year Cruze, but uptake wasn’t high. The automaker pulled the plug as the second-generation Cruze loomed, and a spokesperson said they hadn’t sold one since May 2015.

The evidence behind the suit, at first glance, seems questionable. The law firm says its clients measured their own tailpipe emissions using portable equipment, which showed the Cruze diesel exceeded acceptable emissions levels at certain times.

In response to the firm’s earlier lawsuits, Mercedes-Benz said the effectiveness of its AdBlue urea-injection systems diminishes in cold weather to prevent condensation in the exhaust system. Since the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, other automakers accused of polluting have pointed to the challenge of keeping a diesel engine running clean under all conditions. TTAC once took a close look at how the technology on the Cruze diesel stacks up against a recalled Volkswagen TDI.

Responding to the lawsuit, GM stated, “These claims are baseless and we will vigorously defend ourselves. GM believes the Chevrolet Cruze turbo diesel complies with all U.S. EPA and CARB emissions regulations.”

[Image: General Motors]

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26 Comments on “General Motors Sued Over Previous-Generation Cruze Diesels...”

  • avatar

    If it had been a HELLCAT this would not have happened.

  • avatar

    Sounds like the true definition of a Frivolous Lawsuit. Such litigious agencies should be disbarred.

  • avatar

    “These claims are baseless and we will vigorously defend ourselves.”

    Insert any company or politicians named Clinton and any allegation in advance of that statement and it’s a textbook response.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. It means nothing. Charlie Sheen said these exact same words to Matt Lauer earlier this week. You are correct previously – they have found a weak spot wherein the General will give up some cash in an out of court settlement due to fallout from VW.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “…its clients measured their own tailpipe emissions using portable equipment”

    Stop right there. No court should hear this case unless these ‘tests’ were run in accordance with EPA test protocols, and no firm should have taken the case.

    • 0 avatar

      Yup, the way the EPA emissions laws are written are similar to the CAFE laws in that it is based on a average per mile. That means that it is perfectly legal to in some situations exceed the limits based on an instantaneous measurement but still have an overall pass by operating under the limits in other situations.

      Part of that is based on simple reality and common sense but it also has to do with the way the EPA test procedure works. The vehicle is ran on a dyno and the exhaust is collected in a big ass bag. The contents of that bag are then measured later. So by that nature they only can figure the average emissions and not an instantaneous reading.

      So finding out that the emissions climb in certain situations is far from showing that they are cheating. VW was a completely different issue because they were shown to switch to a mode that just plain shut off or reduced the effectiveness of their emissions systems if the vehicle was being operated in conditions that were not substantially similar to the test procedure.

      As far as a lawyer taking the case unfortunately there are way too many out there that love to take nuisance cases that have no merit with the hopes of occasionally getting a decent out of court settlement.

      • 0 avatar

        I usually wonder if this is less a lawyer “taking a case” as it is a law firm *starting* the litigation and going out to find clients to form a class.

  • avatar

    The big difference here is that the VW code was explicitly written to detect testing protocol and drastically change parameters. No sensible person would expect a system to never have a brief excursion outside the spec under some circumstances.

  • avatar

    Is the Cruze marked as a diesel when it has one? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one in the wild. Also, I can’t imagine it being very quick, given how slow the regular petrol versions are.

    0-60, 12 seconds?

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I saw it, and drove it. It lacked some of the ceremony of VW’s TDIs, but wasn’t any slower, in my opinion. I think it’s a great alternative to a TDI, in fact, especially considering how solid the Cruze feels.

    • 0 avatar

      It has a green 2.0 TD badge on the trunk and slightly different alloy rims than any of the gas models.

      • 0 avatar

        I may have seen one then, or it could have been the ECO one, since they both get a little green badge. (Seriously, at a distance of more than a foot, those badges are going to look identical.)

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Yes. Sadly, you couldn’t get one with the RS Appearance package, which would have been my pick.

        • 0 avatar

          Can’t get it with a manual either. It only comes with GM’s standard 6 speed slush box.

          • 0 avatar

            I dunno, the the 6spd auto works well with my 1.4T. I’d imagine it’d be even better with another 15 horses and 100 ft-lbs. of torque. Tuned for low end power, the 1.4T drives like a turbodiesel mostly.

  • avatar

    While browsing cargurus yesterday, I discovered that you can still buy brand new
    2015 Cruze diesels for under $20k. So if anyone is interested, there you go.

    As for the lawsuit, 6 people? And they tested their own exhaust? Okay then. Hagens Berman should just stick to the TDI suit.

  • avatar

    I have seen a grand total one ONE Cruze diesel in the wild.

    As much as GM frustrates me, I absolutely detest these money-grubbing bottom feeder shysters extorting money with nuisance suits. Attorneys are slimy enough, these guys are right up there with the personal injury guys who advertise on billboards.

    • 0 avatar


      Scum of the earth. I wonder if anyone has ever calculated the embedded ‘Lawyer Tax” in the USA (IE- the hidden cost of all this over lawyering)

      • 0 avatar

        Every time TORT reform has come up it gets killed very quickly in congress. But then again we do keep electing lawyers to political office, so what do you expect?

  • avatar

    Photographed on the Korean Veterans Blvd bridge downtown Nashville. Was this car made at the GM plant in Spring Hill? I’ve never seen one of these in the wild.

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