Italian appeals court allows class action alleging Fiat's Panda guzzles more than declared

MILAN – An Italian appellate court is allowing a class-action suit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that alleges it misled buyers on the amount of fuel consumed by its Panda city car.

The class-action will go ahead in Fiat’s hometown of Turin after an appeals court on Tuesday overturned a lower court ruling, the Altroconsumo consumer group said Tuesday.

The consumer group claims in the suit that it found the gasoline-powered Panda consumed 20 per cent more fuel than claimed by the automaker, beyond the legally permitted 7 per cent variance. The suit is seeking 239 euros ($255) for each member of the class to cover the difference in annual fuel costs averaging 15,000 kilometres.

Fiat Chrysler declined comment.

The lower court had denied the class-action, saying that the differences in the consumption were due to different parameter settings as allowed by law, and which did not demonstrate unreliable or falsified consumption figures. The court added that the “official consumption measured during certification cannot objectively correspond to those registered by the same kind of car once it is on the road.”

The consumer group, meanwhile, is waiting for a court in Venice to decide whether to accept a class-action against Volkswagen for under-declaring consumption of its diesel-powered Golf 1.6 TDI. It claims Volkswagen underrepresented fuel consumption by half.

Altroconsumo tested the cars in the spring of 2014, ahead of Volkswagen’s U.S. emissions cheating scandal, and said it chose the models because they were well-represented on Italian roads.