A lawsuit filed in federal court is expected to seek more than $5 million from General Motors over allegtions that the automaker misled customers and sought to evade emissions testing through the sales of its Chevy Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel.

The class action lawsuit claims that Diesel Cruze buyers paid as much as $2,400 more than for similarly equipped gasoline powered models, both of which are assembled in Lordstown, Ohio

According to the suit filed by the law firm of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, GM marketed its Cruze diesel technology as a process that ensured emissions resulted in a “clean diesel” and that its emissions were below strict U.S. environmental standards, in order to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers.

Claiming that the representations are deceptive and false, the complaint alleges that GM has programmed its Cruze to turn off or otherwise limit the effectiveness of the emission reduction systems during driving conditions below 50ºF and above 85ºF, and emissions exceed U.S. limits by 1.8 to 13.8 times in other real-world driving conditions.

The lawsuit cites a report from a German environmental group which indicated that GM’s Opel model uses a device to sense when a vehicle is undergoing emissions testing but that in normal driving conditions the Opel emits Nitrogen Oxides at levels that exceed European emissions standards.

The complaint concludes that given GM’s ownership of Opel and its similarity to the Cruze, the technology platform in both vehicles is substantially the same.

The Plaintiffs in the suit say testing of the Cruze using a Portable Emissions Measurement System revealed that the Cruze fails to meet U.S. emissions standards as promised.

“GM has perpetrated a gross deception on Plaintiffs and members of the proposed Class, who GM told were buying low-emission, efficient, Earth-friendly vehicles,” according to the complaint.

Opel Group CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann has denied reports suggesting Opel uses software or devices to manipulate emission controls.

Addressing the emission allegations, Dr. Neumann called the accusations "misleading oversimplifications and misinterpretations of the complicated interrelationships of a modern emissions control system of a diesel engine." 

In order to attain class action status, which would permit other people who have purchased the Diesel Cruze to become plaintiffs, the lawsuit cites complaints from buyers in several states, including Ohio.

The 308 page complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Central California, uses the word fraud or fraudulent a total of 195 times.

A copy of the complaint may be viewed here.