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?