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VW Emissions Scandal: UK Government Warned in 2011

By National Practice Group Leader, Group Litigation

It has just emerged that the UK Government knew that diesel cars were polluting more than emissions targets allowed as early as 2009.

VwMPs are questioning ministers and officials from the Department of Transport as well as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on the environmental audit committee. 

The Department of Transport’s Vehicle Certification Agency was responsible for approving diesel cars, such as Seat and Skoda, that had ‘defeat devices’ installed in order to cheat emissions tests. The Vehicle Certification Agency received £84m over the last decade from car manufacturers for services described as “product certification/type approval”.

Questions will rightly be asked as to the close relationship between the car industry and Government agencies and whether that contributed to the current emissions scandal.

DEFRA’s research in 2009 revealed that diesel cars were polluting much more than lab tests showed. In 2011, DEFRA became aware that emissions testing was inadequate. Yet despite having this knowledge, the Government allowed these cars to continue to be sold and even promoted diesel cars as more environmentally friendly than their petrol equivalents.

This follows on from the news that the EU was warned of emissions test cheat devices in 2013.

The Cost of Fixing Volkswagen Cars

VW will have to pay more money than they initially set aside to fix all the cars affected by the emissions scandal.
It is known that it will cost the car manufacturer more than the £4.7bn which the CEO Matthias Müller has now said was set aside just to cover the recall costs.

The total cost remains unknown for the time being, but global financial services company Credit Suisse thinks that it will be more than eleven times the initial amount Volkswagen set aside to fix their faulty cars.

Marketing Scandal

Volkswagen could now be in legal trouble in the USA for false advertising. The Federal Trade Commission is investigating the car manufacturer for ‘deceptive marketing’.

The Volkswagen advertising slogan was “clean diesel”. Seeing as their cars with EA189 engines needed ‘defeat devices’ in order to pass emissions tests, it could be argued that the ‘clean diesel’ claims in their advertising was false. If the Federal Trade Commission were to find VW guilty they have the power to issue them with some hefty fines.

If you have been affected by the VW emissions scandal, either as a vehicle owner, business or shareholder, please register your details with us on our VW Emissions Scandal Investigation page.

Jacqueline Young is Head of Group Litigation at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.

Follow Jacqueline Young on Twitter for live updates on the VW scandal.

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