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Volkswagen Emissions Scandal Update July 2016

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German car giant Volkswagen has admitted to cheating on emissions by falsifying emissions data on its diesel vehicles. Out of 11m cars worldwide that had the software installed, 1.2m of them were in the UK.

Compensation

A report has confirmed that VW will pay up to $1000 to $7000 per vehicle to owners in the USA and that a settlement has been confirmed. They have also offered to buy back or repair the affected vehicles.

The situation in the US would appear to be different than the situation in the UK. In the US VW is facing a lawsuit from the Environmental Protection Agency as VW have actually breached USA emissions standards under the Clean Air Act, whereas in the UK, no such breach has been found. It has been alleged by VW that the recall and repair of affected vehicles in the UK will suffice as the UK has less stringent emissions tests.

What happens next

VW has begun the recall of affected vehicles and have confirmed that once the fixtures have taken place, they will pass the emissions tests without cheating.

Many vehicle owners in the UK and the EU feel that the treatment of the owners of affected vehicles in the UK and the EU is very unfair. Patrick McLoughlin, the UK transport secretary, prior to the ‘Brexit’ vote, called for the European Commission to launch an urgent investigation into the scandal.

More recently, the Brussels-based European Consumer Organisation, Beuc released a statement asking VW to better inform car owners about the recall of affected vehicles and provide compensation, like that being offered in the US. They also stated that VW should not get away with treating European car owners as second-class customers.

Additionally, the European Commission commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska has stated that VW should voluntarily pay European car owners compensation that is comparable with that which they will pay to the USA consumers. The commissioner has been persisting with VW since the scandal.

VW’s CEO has confirmed that they are not planning to offer Europeans compensation. The firm has maintained that once European cars are refitted, there will be no loss of value or lower performance.

It remains to be seen whether or not the EU and the UK will convince VW that consumers should be compensated as the affected consumers in the USA. This will largely depend on the emissions testing to the affected cars following the repair and will also depend on the pressure the European and UK organisations put on VW.

Given the recent ‘Brexit’ vote, it is possible that the UK will no longer benefit from the pressure the European Commission is putting on VW. The UK will now need to put even more pressure on VW to attain compensation for affected customers.

We will continue to monitor developments with VW and to investigate whether it is possible to bring a claim against VW in the UK. If legal action is going to be brought against VW by car owners we will contact you straight away.

VW Emissions Scandal Update – April 2016

Recalls of affected vehicles

As you may be aware VW has confirmed that the plan was to offer a repair to all 1.2 million cars affected by the scandal with some cars requiring a simple software update and others requiring hardware modifications. The recalls were to start taking place in January 2016, taking a full year to complete. It is our understanding that the recalls have now started with VW contacting customers to advise them when their vehicles are likely to be repaired.

At the time of our last update we did not know what the effect of the repairs was likely to be and in this respect, it is still very early days. VW have tried to assure customers that they will not notice a difference in the fuel economy or performance of their cars as the software changes that will be made will have a negligible effect. Whether this holds true is yet to be seen.

Compensation

You may have heard reports that owners in the USA are going to receive a compensation package. The situation in the US would appear to be different than the situation in the UK. In the US VW is facing a lawsuit from the Environmental Protection Agency as VW have actually breached US emissions standards whereas in the UK no such breach has been found.

In addition, in the US VW are not able to roll out a software recall to fix the majority of the affected vehicles, they will require many more physical changes to the catalytic converters and the Selective Catalytic Reduction AdBlue urea injection systems to pass the stricter North American emission criteria.

VW have confirmed that at present they will not be offering compensation for UK owners. This is because VW do not consider that there has been any loss yet to UK customers as at this stage there is no evidence that there has been any devaluation in the residual sales value of used VW cars. VW also state that the fix will have a negligible effect on the fuel economy or performance of the vehicles. Whether used VW’s continue to hold their value remains to be seen.

Many customers remain understandably sceptical of VW’s statements and as we have said previously the full effect of the fixes will not be known until they have been completed and tested.

We will continue to monitor developments with VW and to investigate whether it is possible to bring a claim against VW in the UK. If legal action is going to be brought against VW by car owners we will contact you straight away.

VW Emissions Scandal Update – November 2015

What is the VW emissions scandal?

VW has admitted that many of the diesel engines made by VW contain a software device that detects when an emission test is taking place. When undergoing emission testing the software device activates full emissions control measures to produce results that are far better than the real results when the car is being driven under normal circumstances on the road.

In the USA, the software device has meant that the cars pass the legal emissions limit when being tested but when not being tested the US authorities claim that the diesel engines emit nitrogen oxide way above the legal limit.

VW has confirmed that the same software device has been fitted in cars in Europe but it is not yet known whether the emissions will comply with the legal limits in Europe which are more generous than those in the US.

Is it just Volkswagen cars that are affected?

No, there are other cars that also have the affected EA189 engine in some makes of Audis, Skodas and Seats as well as VW commercial vehicles.

Are VW going to take out the software device?

VW’s plan is to offer a repair to all 1.2 million cars affected by the scandal. The CEO of Volkswagen has confirmed that some cars will require a software update whilst some cars will require hardware modifications, which means a physical repair will need to take place. It is thought that the recalls will start in January 2016 and could take a full year to complete. VW has said that customers will start to be contacted within the next few weeks.

What is not known yet is what the effect of the repairs will be. Depending on what modifications VW makes to the affected cars, fuel consumption and performance could be reduced which could lead to a devaluation of the car, however, this will not be known until the repairs have taken place.

It is not yet known how much the resale price of a car involved in the scandal will be affected. It is thought that this will very much depend on the results of the repair of the affected cars.

Will I have to pay more road tax?

One of the many concerns that motorists faced was whether increased road tax (Vehicle Excise Duty) would be payable if cars are found to be less green than initially thought. The government has now confirmed that motorists affected will not have to pay increased road tax (Vehicle Excise Duty).

Will I get compensation if my car is affected?

This is likely to depend on the effect of the repairs and whether after repair VW can produce the emissions levels produced by the engines in the official tests. If the emissions levels are considerably more than the official tests, claims may be brought for fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of the Sale of Goods Act 1979. VW have confirmed that they are considering compensation for affected customers and Patrick McLoughlin, The Transport Secretary, is calling on VW to compensate drivers if they lose money due to the scandal when they sell their cars.

How can I check whether my car may be affected?

VW, Skoda, Seat and Audi have set up dedicated websites for consumers to check whether their car may be one of those affected by the scandal.

In order to check you will need to visit the applicable website (listed below) and input your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). You can find your VIN in the front of the service book or at the bottom of the windscreen on the left-hand side as you look into the vehicle from the outside.

The VIN will look like this:
WVWZZZ1JZXW000010

http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/owners/dieselinfo

http://skoda-recallactions.skoda-auto.com/en-GB

http://www.seat.co.uk/owners/diesel-engines/home.html

http://www.audi.co.uk/owners-area/emissions/check-your-car.html

What happens next?

The UK Government have launched an investigation into the car emissions testing as have the European Commission. As the investigation progresses, we will keep you updated with the latest news and developments. If legal action is going to be brought against VW by car owners we will contact you straight away.

Published on 29th June 2016.