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Sir James Dyson has claimed Bosch is the Volkswagen of the vacuum cleaner world as he launched legal action against his German engineering rival. The inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner alleged that Bosch is duping consumers with misleading energy-efficiency ratings for its machines.

“Bosch has installed control electronics into some of its machines to wrongfully increase energy consumption when in use – to cheat the EU energy label,” Sir James said. “Their behaviour is akin to that seen in the Volkswagen scandal.

“It seems that industry is rife with manufacturers engineering to find their way around tests, rather than engineering better, more efficient technology. This behaviour is seriously misleading customers.”

Sir James has alleged that the AAAA energy rating achieved by some of Bosch’s vacuum cleaner models was achieved during lab tests with a clean bag in use. But sensors within the vacuum cleaner tell the motor to increase energy use from 750W to 1,600W when the bag is full of dirt to maintain performance, which reduces the energy rating to an E or F.

These findings came to light during independent laboratory testing, according to Sir James who has alleged that the AAAA energy rating achieved by some of Bosch’s vacuum cleaner models was achieved during lab tests

It may be, however, that the EU test methodology is flawed rather than there being wrongful action by Bosch. There is a longstanding rivalry between the two manufacturers. In 2012, Sir James sued Bosch for allegedly paying a Dyson employee to steal secrets from the company’s Malmesbury base.

Bosch has denied that its appliances perform differently at home and under lab conditions, saying that “any suggestion to the contrary is grossly misleading”.

“We do not understand these assertions by Dyson and we strenuously reject them,” the company said, adding that it was “committed to full disclosure on the energy ratings and broader performance of our vacuum cleaners”.

“Bosch has capitalised on the EU regulations which permit that a machine is only tested in an empty state,” Dyson, the company, said in a statement. “Consumers purchasing these machines on the basis of their widely advertised stated AAAA rating are being misled.”

Dyson has taken legal action over the Bosch machines – issuing proceedings in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. If Dyson’s legal challenge is successful, certain models of Bosch vacuum cleaner may need to be recalled.

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