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How does the VW Scandal Affect UK Drivers?

By National Practice Group Leader, Group Litigation

The US chief executive of Volkswagen didn’t mince his words when admitting that Volkswagen (VW) had been dishonest with US regulators and the American public when it deliberately circumvented the clean air rules on diesel cars.

Stating that the company had “totally screwed up” is something of an understatement.

To date, the focus of attention has been on the US given that the Environmental Protection Agency uncovered the use of ‘defeat devices’ to rig the results of emission testing and have subsequently recalled some 482,000 vehicles. There has been unease in the UK as the extent of the problem was not known.

We have started a group for people to register and receive updates which has proved to be very popular. If anyone would like to register please visit our Volkswagen Legal Information page.

In a dramatic turn, VW has just announced 11 million of its diesel cars worldwide may be implicated in the emissions-testing scandal and has set aside £4.7bn to cover costs related the issue. There has been no indication if any of the 11 million effected cars were sold in the UK. VW have advised that the 11 million cars identified all have a Type EA189 engine and these vehicles show a ‘noticeable deviation’ in emission levels between testing and road use.

Is My Car Affected by the Volkswagen Scandal?

The affected models (manufactured from 2009 to 2015) are currently reported to be:

  • Jetta
  • Beetle
  • Golf
  • Audi A3

The 2014 – 2015 VW Passat models are also affected.

Environmental campaigners have long questioned the emission results released by car manufacturers. Health experts have argued that the levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) in the air are too great for emission figures to be accurate.

Consequently, there is a fear that the admission by VW of rigging test results is just the tip of the iceberg and that this practice is endemic in the industry.

However, it is suggested that such a deception would be harder to achieve given that the European Union (EU) approaches emissions testing in a different way to the US. The EU now requires emission levels to meet the Euro 6 scheme and prescribes strict conditions for the actual testing, which is witnessed by a government-appointed independent approval agency (the Vehicle Certification Agency).

Can I Claim Against Volkswagen?

The European Commission has stated that it is in contact with VW and the US regulators to establish the extent of the problem and the UK Department of Transport is allegedly pushing the EU to be proactive in investigating.

It is clear that UK VW diesel vehicles will now be the subject of EU scrutiny. If any of the 11 million identified cars have been sold in the UK then either owners, or car dealerships / VW franchises stocking such vehicles will have viable legal claims for breach of contract, given that they have purchased the car based on misrepresentations which have devalued the vehicle.

Claims may also be advanced by VW shareholders due to the slump in the share price caused by the recent announcement.

We will continue to track the investigations conducted by the EU and update our website accordingly, but VW customers who are concerned whether their vehicle has the Type EA189 engine can find out by looking on their V5C document or in their service book which usually has a data sticker. Failing this, the VW customer care centre should be able to confirm the engine type for VW owners in the UK. Audi is also owned by Volkswagen and some Audi models may also be affected.

Jacqueline Young is a Group Litigation Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.

Follow Jacqueline Young on Twitter for live updates on the VW scandal @jacyounglawyer

For more information or expert legal advice, call our specialist litigation solicitors on 0800 916 9015 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you.

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