/ Motoring

VW emissions scandal: one year on

car emissions

The time last year, news broke that VW had been caught cheating US emissions tests on its diesel engines. At the time, the car manufacturer promised it would fix affected vehicles within a year, but since then, very little progress has been made on the VW emissions scandal.

In the year since news of the emissions scandal broke, I’ve gone from shock, to anger, to bemusement with how VW Group has handled repairing the damage from what is, quite frankly, appalling corporate behaviour.

As the scandal broke, we launched our campaign, ‘Come Clean on Fuel Claims‘, challenging all car manufacturers to reveal if they too had deceived the public as VW had.

With well over one million VW Group cars affected, we urged the government to act fast on its investigation into whether the manipulation of emissions tests was an industry-wide practice.

The Transport Secretary at the time, Patrick McLoughlin MP, said his ’priority is to protect the public as we go through the process of investigating what went wrong and what we can do to stop it happening again in the future‘.

The government were slow to investigate and have been particularly lacklustre in taking action.

Have car owners been conned in the VW emissions scandal?

We’ve now heard from tens of thousands of car owners supporting our campaign. There is real anger at VW. People feel like they’ve been conned. And they are right to feel that way.

In April, we went before parliament to lambast the lack of action from government and the dismal reaction to the scandal by VW.

Before we gave evidence to Parliament, we asked 30,000 Which? supporters what they thought about the scandal and the message was clear: 94% said that car manufacturers weren’t being fair to UK consumers.

Failing to deliver

This is not surprising when you look at the disparity in how UK consumers are treated compared to our cousins in the US. Consumers in the US will be in line for a share of billions of dollars in compensation payouts. While in the UK, VW has dismissed the concerns of consumers outright and refused to compensate for its outright disgraceful and underhand behaviour.

VW can’t even deliver on what it promised owners it would do. It said that it would repair consumers’ cars within a year. It has completely failed to do this and hasn’t done enough to keep VW owners aware of what is happening, including regular Which? Conversation member, Wavechange:

Lack of progress

What has driven me to bemusement in the past couple of weeks though are statements coming out of the European Commission. It seems to have given VW a free pass for another year to repair affected cars. No one asked VW car owners if they wanted to wait.

There has also been minimal movement on securing compensation for owners, as VW outright refuses to pay out in the UK (and there are currently no viable legal routes to make it).

As a campaigner, I’ll admit I’m dismayed at the lack of progress we’ve secured on getting redress for UK consumers and the dispiriting reaction from those with power to hold VW Group to account.

This has been a challenging campaign, against a company that is wilfully ignoring the concerns of its customers and refusing to even hold a discussion with consumer groups in the UK on how it will redress the issues.

So it’s quite clear to us that there’s still much to be done here. And we’re considering the steps we can take to hold VW to account.

Has your car been affected by the VW Group emissions scandal? If so, how has your case been handled? What more do you think can be done to hold VW to account?

Comments
Member

In December I received a letter stating”independent testing authorities have confirmed there will be no negative impact on engine performance, torque, fuel consumption, noise & Co2 emissions after having the update applied.”I contacted VW vie their e mail address on their web site asking if they could tell me who the independent testing authorities were & if I could see the results of those tests. This is the reply I received early January:

“Thank you for your email dated 7 December 2016 to Volkswagen UK. Please accept my apologies for the delay in our response.

In response to the concerns you raised in your email, I can confirm that the Volkswagen Group has developed technical measures for vehicles affected by the NOx emissions issue, and is working closely with the relevant authorities (in particular, the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) and the UK’s Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA)) in this regard. The objective of the technical measures will be that the affected vehicles comply with the limits for NOx during test conditions in a manner that leaves no room for any doubt that it is fully approved by the relevant regulatory authorities. Whilst the relevant authorities have approved in principle the proposed technical measures, the Volkswagen Group is now working to finalise the technical measures with the relevant authorities for each model variant.

The technical measure is being designed to have no adverse effect on the performance or quality of your vehicle. In this respect, the relevant authorities are performing extensive independent tests in relation to the technical measures for every single model before they are implemented in the affected vehicles. In addition, each individual measure is tested by the Quality Assurance Department through a series of tests which takes six to ten weeks, as well as being tested in different conditions and different altitudes to ensure they are durable and robust.

In this regard, the technical measures for certain 2.0 litre engine vehicles affected by the issue (including models from Volkswagen, SEAT, ŠKODA and Audi), and certain 1.6 litre engine vehicles (Volkswagen Caddy), have now all received final written clearance from the KBA. The KBA has confirmed that the technical measures have no impact on the performance of these vehicle models, including their MPG, CO2 emissions, engine performance and maximum torque, and noise emissions. The clear intention is that the technical measures for all other affected models (including your vehicle) will similarly have no impact on performance.

For practical reasons and for reasons of commercial sensitivity, it will not be possible to provide specific test figures for individual customer vehicles.

Volkswagen will strive to ensure that you are fully satisfied with the technical measures and we sincerely hope to regain the trust you placed in Volkswagen when you chose your Volkswagen Passat; so if, following the implementation of the technical measures, you have specific concerns about your vehicle, we will be more than happy to discuss these with you further before the technical measures are implemented.

Finally, thank you for taking the time to contact us. I am sorry for any inconvenience this has caused you.”

The last sentence obviously doesn’t make sense, but I was more concerned with “The clear intention is that the technical measures for all other affected models (including your vehicle) will similarly have no impact on performance.” So I asked if I could be told when the final written clearance from KBA so that I could get my Passat software altered. I received this in response:

“Thank you for your email dated 24 January to Volkswagen UK. Please accept my apologies for the delay in my response.

I understand that you have received our letter informing you that the Volkswagen Group has developed a software update for your Volkswagen Passat and that this software update is now available to be implemented. I would like to assure you that the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (the KBA) is performing independent and rigorous tests of the implementation of the technical measures in the affected vehicles, to ensure that the measures have no adverse impact on the performance of those vehicles. The KBA, which is the relevant independent type approval authority for your vehicle, has provided its final written clearance for the implementation of the software update for your vehicle model and has confirmed that the update has no adverse impact on CO2 emissions, MPG, engine performance and maximum torque, and noise emissions.

I apologise for any confusion caused by not stating this in my previous correspondence. To reiterate, for vehicles where technical measures have already been released (as they have been for your vehicle), the KBA has confirmed that the technical measures have no impact on the performance of these vehicle models, including their MPG, CO2 emissions, engine performance and maximum torque, and noise emissions. ”

Looks clear cut…………if you believe them?

Member

the principle of what VW say is correct. Independent vehicle testing establishments such as the KBA and VCA are responsible for checking the effectiveness of the proposed changes from VW Group on their range of affected engines and approving the modifications before they can be released to the market.. It has taken a long time but presumably VW’s solutions have also taken time to find. I presume the basic data would be available once approved in the same way that new car data is published. However, we must remember that the only published data that is allowed by the EC is that derived from the ancient NEDC test regime that bears only a passing resemblance to real life. Maybe when we leave the EU we can escape this and allow, or require, car manufacturers to publish the more-useful real life data as well.

Member

London Mayor- Sadiq Khan has stated that the government should introduce a scrappage scheme of £500 Million including £4,300 to van drivers and £2000 credit to low-income households for using alternative transport /buying a CLEANER model . So we have Gordon “Broon ” introducing a higher tax for for cars emitting higher levels of carbon dioxide in 2001 making drivers shift to Diesel now in 2017 is it- higher tax for diesels due to Nitrogen emissions ? leading to — Electric vehicles for all ( who can afford the electricity ) – you would think the industry has this all planned out with Nissan in London testing their automated cars . Comments ?

Member

When Greater London voted to have Mr Khan as their Mayor the rest of the country should have been consulted before asking the government to spend more of our taxes on vehicle scrappage schemes.

On the other hand, cleaner air will take some pressure off the health service but one might ask why aren’t the motor manufacturers and oil companies making a bigger contribution?

Member

I certainly hope that VW will be asked to make a contribution to our government’s funds. Everyone suffers from the effects of vehicle pollution, especially those living and working in cities and town.

Member

If NOX emissions comply with the NEDC requirements then the one we need to look at on “corrected” vehicles is CO2, as this is directly linked to tax – vehicle excise duty and benefit in kind for company car users. Should CO2 from corrected vehicles be in a higher band than originally declared then the government should be reclaiming the past and future underpaid tax from VW, should they not? In addition, if UK law has been broken then they should be fined.

Member

Wasn’t sure where to post this but as it is directly related to car emissions this place is as good as any . Has Which taken note of the new published rules by Gov.UK for vehicles registered after April 1st -2017 – if not it might be worth a Convo on its own ? . #1- the amount you pay will be based on CO2 emissions and no 6 month payment in first year. –0 emissions= 0 tax –over 255 -petrol/diesel =£2000 . After that it depends on the fuel the vehicle uses -electric=£0– alternative=£130 – petrol/diesel – £140 and how about this WHICH , this will bring in floods of posts – new vehicle costing more than £40,000 you pay the EMISSION rate –storms of protests coming up ? After the first 12 months you will pay a rate based on the fuel the vehicle uses -electric=£310–Alternative (total ) £440 — petrol/diesel £450 .If this isn’t worth a Convo by itself I will eat my hat ! : https://www.gov.uk/vehicle-tax-rate-tables/vehicles-registered-on-or-after-1-april-2017