/ Money, Motoring

Update: Do you think Volkswagen should compensate car owners?

Car model

We’ve surveyed more than 2,000 VW diesel owners – nine in ten think people affected by the scandal should be compensated. And yet, Volkswagen has so far failed to announce redress.

What’s most important to you when you buy a car? Well, when we asked VW owners, 96% said fuel efficiency and 90% the environmental impact. These are both areas that have been undermined by the scandal involving ‘defeat devices’ that were fitted to diesels.

The scandal has had such a big effect on VW car owners, that over half would now be put off buying a VW diesel car in the future.

Diane felt she bought her VW under false pretenses:

‘What they said at purchase point influenced my decision to purchase, and had I had the full facts, I never would have done so. Categorically not. I want it recalled and offered an alternative car.’

Letters from Volkswagen

I know lots of you have received letters from VW now, which point you to a website where you see updates. The fact that the company is contacting affected owners is great, but the letters are short on detail. There’s also still no mention of redress.

When quizzed by the Government’s transport committee on Monday, VW’s UK boss Paul Willis refused to confirm whether they’d compensate customers, saying it was ‘too premature to talk about loss of value’. He also said that a recall might not happen until the new year, despite more than a million UK cars being affected.

Anne told us she’s really worried about the re-sale value of her two cars:

‘This is the first time we have ever been able to afford new cars and sadly both of our new cars are affected. I’m really worried about the re-sale value now and feel we’ll need to hang onto these cars forever so that we don’t lose out too much. The environmental impact concerns me greatly too.’

VW must address redress

Today we’re again urging VW to set out a clear timetable for redress, and calling on the Government to closely monitor the car maker’s next steps to ensure recalls and redress happen quickly and easily. We also want assurances from the Government that it will prevent anything like this happening again

Do you think VW needs to address redress? Will you think again before buying a Volkswagen, Audi, Seat or Skoda car?

[UPDATE 19 OCTOBER 2015] – According to our second survey, the effect of the VW scandal has spread beyond just those affected to owners of other cars.

In our survey of more than 1,000 UK car owners, eight in ten people expect more car makers to be drawn into the emissions scandal. Only one in five said they think the Government has a clear action plan in place, and more than three quarters agreed that the Government should ensure new fuel tests are brought in as soon as possible.

We’re calling on the Government to quickly start an independent investigation into the scandal, and to work with the European Commission to bring in new tests you can trust.

[Update 14 January 2016] – VW’s UK boss, Paul Willis, has told MPs that VW will conduct repair work on vehicles rather than making payments to British drivers.

And yet, payouts are being offered in the US. In November 2015, around 482,000 US motorists were offered a compensation package equivalent to £693. Then earlier this week an announcement was made to extend compensation to cover tens of thousands of US owners of larger diesel vehicles.

Paul Willis said that the US is a ‘very different situation’ due to regulations which leaves it unclear as to whether the vehicles can be fixed. We don’t think that’s fair.

Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:

‘This is just not good enough for VW customers, when nine out of ten told us they thought those impacted by the scandal should receive compensation.

‘British consumers deserve to be treated fairly. We urge Volkswagen to reconsider its position, and we want assurances from the Government that it will introduce measures to prevent a scandal like this happening again.’

[Update 22 April 2016] – Volkswagen has announced that it will pay ‘substantial compensation’ to US car owners affected by the diesel emissions scandal. The news came in a California court, where the judge said that the settlement is expected to include an offer to buy back affected cars. The car maker and regulators have until late June to agree all the final details of the pay out.

Our executive director Richard Lloyd commented on the announcement:

‘Volkswagen’s customers in the UK will be angry about this news. People will not understand why a deal is being offered to US consumers when there is nothing on the table for the 1.2million owners affected in the UK.

‘Volkswagen needs to act now and set out what they will do for their UK customers.’

[Update 28 June 2016]– Volkswagen will pay out £11bn to settle the diesel emissions scandal in the US. The terms of the settlement were revealed today in the US District Court in San Francisco. It’s been agreed that VW will pay over £7.5bn to either purchase the cheating vehicles or pay for repairs, and owners of around 10,000 VWs will receive £7,500 in compensation. A further £2bn will be paid to the US government for environmental mitigation. The company will also pay £1.5bn for research into zero-emissions vehicles.

Our Director of Policy and Campaigns, Alex Neill, commented on the announcement:

‘Volkswagen customers in the UK will rightly question why a deal is being offered to US consumers when there is nothing on the table for the 1.2 million owners affected in this country.

‘VW must not be let off the hook, the Government should intervene and stand up for UK consumers.’

If you think UK VW owners should also receive compensation, join almost 80,000 others by signing our petition.


Volkswagen should offer to buy the cars from owners At a top price plus extra according to the mileage used

There’s a whole new area of manufacturer liability opening up now. First it was the smart phones with the cracked screens, then the smart TVs that can no longer get various apps or media, now we have cars that are so smart they can falsify official test results. In each case the law does not seem to be smart enough to deal with it and manufacturers argue their way out of any liability to compensate the purchaser. At least VW are offering a fix but I consider it unlikely that any owners will get anything more than a token for their adversity in buying a Volkswagen diesel. As for the planet and the population at large who have suffered the effects of smoky cars they will get nothing until every one of those vehicles has been rectified. Given that some of them are with their second or third owner already that will never happen.

The cars are no smokier now than when first purchased so what’s to compensate for?
I cannot believe people now saying they would never have purchased the cars if they had known about the testing issues, I doubt whether the emissions were ever part of their purchasing decisions so shouting now seems like those women with the divorce big-money scenario.

If they had not falsified the test results these cars would not have been on the road in the first place as they would have been disqualified. The environment is the loser.

John, absolutely. What I cannot understand is the stupidity of VW doing this. The chances of being found out at some point – test quizzing as now, a disgruntled employee telling all, for example – and the consequences particularly in the States seem so likely that you wonder just how it could have been contemplated.

Other manufacturers seem to make engines that pass the test without cheating (I live in hope). Perhaps it was the lure of developing a huge American market, with no local competition, that was the bait. Just speculation.

The environment that loses out most is in congested towns and cities. Here the pollution builds up. On-the-road pollution is more than tests show from most vehicles so my view is we should limit the vehicles we allow to access these areas. Otherwise we are simply obeying rules but not improving the environment.

Owners should have the full backing of the law to return their cars for a full refund as they have been mis-sold

Most drivers buy cars for looks, reliability and fuel consumption, as I did – they probably didn’t know anything about NOx emissions. Compensation should only be given for loss or damage incurred. Tere are too many ambulance chasing lawyers making money already. I expect VW to come up with a technical solution which will not be quick.
“Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, said: “Many VW owners tell us they decided to buy their car based on its efficiency and low environmental impact, so it’s outrageous that VW are not being clear with their customers about how and when they will be compensated.” is a stupid statement and shows a lack of understanding of the problem and its effect which is not yet known. Part of the “something must be done” syndrome.

PS: To answer the questions above directly:
Should VW give redress – If the owners suffer loss.
Would I buy another VW – Probably depending on what models are on offer.
NB The Which tests don’t even mention NO2 emissions, only CO2, as far as I can see so you didn’t appear to rate them as important.

Which do not comment upon NOx as all cars that are Euro 6 compliant must emit below 80mg/km by law. Which advise whether the cars are Euro 6 compliant because they think it is important. Their is no point in comparing such cars as they all produce just below 80mg/km. Or at least non-VW cars do.

Co2 is, however, not fixed by law but is controlled by tax. All cars vary, the tax paid thus varies (especially company car tax) & it is important to compare cars: This is why which does compare cars.

Modifying cars to reduce NOx will increase fuel consumption & Co2 emissions. This will increase costs for all purchasers and reduce resale value: It s not rocket science.

“Many owners tell us they decided to buy their car based on its efficiency and low environmental impact” Which? say. This is totally at odds with what the RAC found. From memory only 4% considered environmental impact as top of their considerations; only 7% had it in their top four.

I think we have cause to worry about the “facts” being used in this discussion. Perhaps Which? would like to comment on the disparity between its claim and that of the RAC foundation.

The survey was most likely to have been carried out post VW scandal and is representative of the new environmental awareness and the ability for car makers to cheat. For my next car purchase, emissions will now have top priority.

Beryl, people bought their VW Group cars before the scandal. The RAC figures say that only 4% had emissions top of their reasons for buying. For Which? to say that “many owners….bought for environmental reasons” is either at odds with this or in hindsight owners have changed their minds. Or the survey asked a loaded question…or…?

George says:
15 October 2015

Looks like another raft of ‘Lets blame someone else and get a nice fat refund’ cases are lining up. The moaners in our society really p*ss me off! Moral to this story – don’t by another VW – simple!

They bought Euro 6 cars that were not Euro 6 compliant. Fixing this will increase fuel consumption & Co2. It will also reduce resale value.
Purchasers will then suffer real loss, which has a real value.
If you do not understand a subject, please do not post.

Not everyone understands these technical subjects and some of us are here to learn. Anyone can join a Conversation.

John Hanger says:
1 July 2016

I bought my VW Passat after reading a Car Which? report that gave the Passat a good write up. Perhaps it is Which? that should be compensating owner members. Why didn’t Which? discover this fault when they tested the car? Indeed Which? was right, it is the best car I have ever owned, so I do not feel I have been cheated even if have.

John says:
15 October 2015

If the emissions data has been falsified, then have VW drivers been paying a lower road tax than the car should have required ?
When accurate data is established, will these cars be re-classified for the correct tax ?

The VW Group emissions cheat primarily involves NOx. I do not know if this affect CO2, or whether the EU limits have been affected. Tax is based on CO2 emissions, not NOx, and even if these have been adversley affected the UK Govt have stated that it will not affect owners VED charge.

Guy Reynolds says:
15 October 2015

I am a VW owner, and at the current time VW are telling me that my 2013 Golf is unaffected which is a relief, however this debarcal could impact me due to a general drop in the second hand value of the vehicle. In this instance I hope that I would be compensated in some way for my losses.

I have just been told that my 2013 Golf is affected. At the very least, I will lose a day getting the fix put in to correct the problem. I have a lovely car which is very economical. I would hate to think that the fix will make the engine run cooler, increase the number of particulates in the exhaust making it less economical and fail it MOT.

Robert Kennedy says:
15 October 2015

I share your concern that the fix may result in reduced mpg. What if we do not submit our cars for the fix since they remain safe to drive? Will there be any MOT, road tax, insurance or other consequences?

WV deliberately set out to deceive and in doing so gain a commercial advantage. They have deceived Governments and their customers. Governments will decide what penalty they will impose but customers should be able to hand back any affected vehicle for a full refund. That would be appropriate compensation.

Minus wear and tear presumably.

Bill says:
15 October 2015

Let’s not forget the other brands involved. I have just purchased my first new car, an Audi, and hope I don’t later regret doing so!

Audi is a VW car, as is a Skoda, a Seat & a Porsche.

If you have just bought a Euro 6 compliant Audi diesel you most likely are effected.

VW/Audi can fix it, but the Co2 emissions will go up & the fuel efficiency will fall, as will the resale value of your car.

Bad choice I am afraid.

To be frank Which has been on about differential between manufacturers claims for MPG and the reality yet there’s no hysteria over that point, which does have an impact.

The fix to the issue is software and as the mileage claims with all manufacturers is suspect I don’t think it will make much impact.

Bill’s purchase of an Audi is not necessarily a bad choice, Rob. He’s still got a nice Audi that is the same car today as it was when he bought it. Its relative value might suffer a bit at first but after the fix and over time the difference will fade away. Into each life a little rain must fall.

Never mind emissions, how about VW reliability? Countless consumer reports and user feedbacks seem to throw into question the oft-repeated claim that VWs are super reliable.

The emissions don’t threaten the health of the owners anymore than anyone else. The only harm suffered by these owners is that some of them might feel bad about polluting the air.

These rules were brought in for the good of society, to make our air safer to breathe. VW fraudulently and deliberately produced cars that spew out many times more Nox emissions than the law said they should. VW should be compensating society, by way of massive fines.

Mike says:
15 October 2015

I agree with Koru. Everybody has been affected by these emissions and VW should be compensating everybody and not just VW owners. What should be done with the massive fines is another matter.

pay money into NHS

I agree with Rogmull; there will now be carpet-baggers out for a quick buck, just as BP have found with the Gulf oil spill. I bought my Passat the car for performance and reliability which it has done well for 115000 miles. I would be reluctant to accept a recall if it results in lots more exhaust gas being recirculated into the air intake to cool the combustion flame. VW should compensate the whole country for NOx, via fines; not the owners.

Paul says:
15 October 2015

Do I check NOx emissions when I buy a car?. No. Has this put me off VW? No way. Are their cars inferior in any way? On the contrary. Deceitful or clever? Clever in my book. How is what they did any different then removing spare wheels or side mirrors for the tests? The law says they have to be tested, which they were. Perhaps it’s the law that needs changing.

Bryan says:
15 October 2015

Paul makes possibly the most sensible comments on the VW affair I have seen so far. I also think that testing one car to represent many thousands is ridiculous. Why not average annually MOT results on each make, model and engine size? I must add I have a petrol Honda and in 60 odd years driving have never wanted a diesel so I have no axe to grind.

Bryan, I agree with you. Meaningful data will only ever be obtained from “on the road” tests taken from a number of samples to give statistically significant results. Hopefully the new EC’s RDE test will help. A number of websites publish owners reported mpg figures from which we can already get a good idea of what fuel consumption we might expect in practice. I wonder if some purchased vehicles could be equipped with simple exhaust gas analysers to give more of this information. Is their such a device or could one be developed?

However we cannot only rely on “on the road” tests as the conditions introduce a number of variables that are difficult to control. We also need laboratory testing under strictly controlled conditions run to a tightly-written specification, both when developing engines and to initially check for compliance for certification. What is needed are more realistic lab tests – WLTP is the latest test protocol and seems to meet this – whose results can be better equated to real life; the RDE (Real Driving Emissions test being introduced by the EC) will hopefully do this. Then realistic and achievable limits can be established.

You seem a tad misinformed.

Euro 6 compliant cars must by law emit less than 80mg/km Nox. This was reduced from 180mg/km in Euro 5 compliant cars to reduce the impact upon human health in the form of asthma, other respiratory diseases, cancer, etc.

VW Euro 6 complaint cars put out about 160mg/km & have added millions of tonnes of additional Nox into the environment. This most likely has cause children to die from heart attacks, people to develop cancer, etc.

Do you really think that is clever? I sincerely hope none of your family or friend die of cancer or a respiratory related illness only to have you turn up smirking in your VW car.

Randers says:
15 October 2015

I appreciate the view ‘what would any compensation be FOR? Who has lost money through their car emitting higher NOx levels’.
But the compensation would be for being lied to, by a salesman. Consumer protection laws have grown in recent years to guard against precisely that thing. When a salesman lies to a customer in order to make a profit, that is illegal and there are repercussions. The repercussions should not be that if the lie is found out then the product will be altered so it gets a bit nearer to what the salesman said it would be – the repercussions should be that the customer gets instead exactly what they believed they were buying or the sale is cancelled and money refunded.
A third option would be that a compromise is agreed between them to compensate the customer for having been provided with an article which was not as described – but that should be at the customer’s discretion to accept or reject.
This is what should be available for where the car is still owned by the original purchasers, where cars have changed hands since then the ‘fix’ option is perhaps the only workable one.

Compensation would be for the future increase in fuel bills, Co2 emission (likely future tax increase) & loss in resale value following the cars being fixed.

It should also be to the Government for harm to public health & massive loss in tax revenue.

How would having the car fixed cause its value to drop? I would have thought the opposite, the CO2 emissions are dependent on many factors that could affect the emission itself.
We have been mislead for years with suspect mileage claims yet I cannot see people trooping up to dealers asking for compensation!

Surely, if Rob Duff’s figures are correct, then VW should be required to modify the cars so that they pass the existing CO2 test without the defeat software, AND ensure that they meet Euro6 standards if they were claimed to do so at the point of sale. If they cannot do this, then they cannot claim compliance with Euro 6 and must suffer the associated consequences with regard to future sales, and compensate existing owners for any false claims in VW group promotional literature or salespersons’ claims.

Whilst ‘VW’ is featured in this article, don’t forget Skoda and Seat owners also affected. I don’t know which other car companies are owned by VW or supply them with engines. I own a Skoda Yeti 2.0 diesel, which I like, and have just had a letter from Skoda that my car is affected. Apart from being disappointed that more pollution was being caused than anticipated there’s the question if resale values will be affected. Has this put me off VW group – not yet!

I have never owned a diesel car, always remembering the filth that lorries and buses pumped out in the 50’s and 60’s when I was stood at the bus stop going to school. In my mind, it is a dirty fuel because of the particles in the exhaust smoke. VW are going to modify their products. If I was an owner I would expect no loss in performance (Torque, HP) and the fuel economy to remain the same as I had experienced before the modification, I am sure that everyone who bought cars knew that they would not obtain the consumption figures achieved in the lab, so the only subject they were mislead on was cleanliness – NOx and particulate emissions. When the cars have been modified the NOx and particulate emissions should be tested in real-world conditions. To mitigate for the pollution existing in the air, the intake air content must be compared with exhaust air quality to calculate the additional pollution that the car is generating. This figure should be below the figure required by EU legislation. Simples! or maybe not for VW….

Have written to SEAT following confirmation our vehicle has EA189 diesel engine fitted. Awaiting reply before taking any legal advise.

Watch the crowd gather hoping for a hand-out. Nobody I know questions emmissions as a factor when purchasing a new car; looks, colour, performance fuel economy top the list. VW cars are probably still passing the MOT on emissions, possibly saving customers money as they do not have to alter catalytic converters etc…
The emissions are a fraction of what China spews out every week, until they come on board and clean up there act litaerally we in the west are wasting our time, so don’t loose any sleep over your emissions. I guess a lot of VW drivers have installed wood burners, but that is a whole different arguement

wilfred says:
15 October 2015

So it’s okay to mis – represent a technical feature on a vehicle then!
Wouldn’t want to buy a car from you!

I chose my car because it was Euro 6 compliant & thus does not cause as much harm in the form of impact upon human health. This was a priority. I then looked at Co2 emissions before other factors.

Nox affects all who directly inhale it. It contributes towards asthma, other respiratory diseases, cancer, etc., for the people in the direct vicinity.

If I was contributing to a child dying of asthma or a mother from Cancer I would lose sleep on it. This is why Euro 6 compliance was important to me. Clearly, these things are of no concern to you.

If you were that concerned about NOx, why on earth did you buy a diesel?

I feel I should be compensated for paying the correct tax amount on my small car honestly, where as a lot of those owing VWs are comfortably off and if they got away with a lower rate of tax even if not their fault,then why should they get compensation unless it is equal to what they have not paid at correct tax to pollute and therefore wiping out any refund. I cough my guts up with diesel fumes and query how come it is supposed to be better then other fuels. Get behind a lorry , bus etc in a queue and as it pulls away it gets into my car air vents.

Owners of affected cars have been benefitting from a lower road tax and higher petrol consumption throughout the life of the vehicle. Will they offset such savings from any potential loss of resale value when submitting any claim for compensation?

Robert C says:
15 October 2015

sorry, they have not benefited from HIGHER fuel consumption (the corrective tweaks MAY cause higher consumption; we shall see) and the problem concerns diesel cars, not petrol. The issue is one of blatantly cheating on emissions, not fuel consumption figures, which is a different matter.

Roddy says:
15 October 2015

If I was a VW owner (I’m not!), I wouldn’t bleat too hard about getting redress or a fix for an affected vehicle.

Why did they install the cheat device in the first place? Because the existing engine design couldn’t be made to meet the stringent US regulations without reducing the performance to an unacceptable level.

What can they do about it in any “fix” that they come up with? Either remove the cheat software in which case the cars won’t meet the US or possibly also the EU regulations over NOx emissions, or change the software so that the engines do meet the regulations in which case the performance will likely be reduced and owners will end up with a “gutless wonder” that no one will want to buy.

If I owned an affected VW and I was happy with it, I would just continue to drive and enjoy it and leave the squabbling over emissions to VW and the regulators. How many owners know what the NOx emissions or the CO2 emissions for that matter should be anyway?

Like carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides are natural components of the atmosphere, produced by lightning, and the source of soil nitrates that enable plants to grow. They’re also highly soluble and washed out by rain. It’s only in urban areas where traffic density means a high concentration in the air that NOx becomes a problem. So, unless and until a way of reducing NOx emissions from diesel engines can be found and put in place, diesel vehicles should be restricted in urban areas where in any case electric or hybrid ones are more efficient.
My VW diesel Eos may have been spewing more NOx than it should but it also emits less CO2 which globally is a more serious problem.

Their is a way of reducing it. Euro 5 complaint cars put out 180mg/km Nox, which was reduced to 80mg/km for Euro 6 compliant cars, thus reducing the emission by 65%: This was reduced to save human lives.

Your VW still puts out 180mg/km. You clearly do not care about this.