Another day, another big blow to the reputation of Volkswagen… and another big disappointment for VW drivers.
As the morning papers tell it, the former chief executive of VW, Martin Winterkorn, was told about problems with diesel emissions tests in May 2014 and not when the scandal broke last October. This is a significant departure from the company’s previous defence that only a small group of its engineers knew about the so-called defeat devices used in VW diesel cars.
The car maker said in a statement to a shareholder lawsuit in Germany that a memo was sent to then CEO Martin Winterkorn in 2014 about a US emissions study. The study questioned whether VW diesel cars were emitting more in real-world driving than in official government tests. However, the issue ‘did not initially receive particular attention at the management levels’. VW added:
‘Whether and to which extent Mr Winterkorn took notice of this memo at that time is not documented.’
16 months of inaction
That’s 16 months in which action could have been taken and 16 months in which it wasn’t. Instead it took an in-depth investigation by the US Environmental Protection Agency for Volkswagen bosses to come clean about their defeat device. VW has had countless chances to do the right thing and its customers deserve better.
Over a million VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat owners have been left waiting for the roll-out of a fix that was expected to begin in January this year, but many have yet to hear any updates on when this will now happen. Plus, VW is still not offering compensation for UK owners – even though US owners are receiving up to $1,000. It’s not good enough.
Government investigation into emissions scandal
The Government has been conducting an investigation into the impact of the defeat device and whether it broke UK and EU laws. It’s expected to report on its findings and conclusions in the spring, but no one is quite sure how it’s going and what to expect from it. No clear timetable has been set and no information has been published about its progress, leaving consumers in the dark.
The Transport Select Committee rightly points out that consumer trust has been broken by this scandal and the longer it drags on and the longer VW drivers are expected to drive affected vehicles without knowing what the next steps will be, the more damage will be done.
Nearly 105,000 people support our Come Clean on Fuel Claims campaign, which calls for more stringent emissions and fuel economy tests and redress for those affected by Volkswagen’s actions. We think it’s unacceptable that drivers are still uncertain as to how this scandal will impact their vehicles and what support and redress they can expect from Volkswagen and the Government.
There’s a clear need for the Government to speed up its investigation, ensure VW’s properly held to account and to revise emissions tests so that this never happens again. Are you with us?