Volkswagen has admitted to wrongdoing by misleading customers over the environmental friendliness of its vehicles. The ‘dieselgate’ scandal has cost the car maker in excess of €30 billion to-date. However, so far, Volkswagen has only compensated purchasers in Germany.
In a win for consumer rights, the European Commission and the EU Consumer Protection Authority (CPC) have said that Volkswagen should compensate all purchasers of affected diesel vehicles across all EU member states. There are thought to be 8.5 million vehicles fitted with emission cheating devices across the bloc.
Commenting on the case, EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders said: “There have been court rulings exposing Volkswagen’s unfair treatment of consumers, and yet the car maker is not willing to work with consumer organisations to find appropriate solutions for consumers.”
He added that “all consumers need to be compensated”, and “not only consumers residing in Germany.”
Volkswagen has pushed back against the idea of compensating all EU customers. Not least because, while it has previously said that it had set aside a further €1.2 billion to help settle this case, if it is made to compensate all EU claimants, this figure would need to increase considerably.
Volkswagen continues to argue that consumers outside of Germany do not require compensation as the affected cars have now been modified to meet legal emission standards. However, following these fixes, many motorists complained that their cars were not performing correctly. One man said his car had become almost undriveable since the work was done.
Speaking to the Guardian, he said: “The car has begun to stall intermittently, and is difficult to restart. It used to go into ‘regeneration mode’ [whereby soot collected in a filter is burnt off at high temperature to leave only a tiny ash residue] a few times a year, but now does it on almost every journey. This is my wife’s car and is used to transport our two children. As far as I can see they have ruined a perfectly working car.”
Volkswagen’s argument that it doesn’t need to compensate non-German consumers has been vigorously rejected by multiple national and EU courts.
The CPC cannot force Volkswagen to pay compensation to all the EU customers caught up in the dieselgate scandal, but in asking it to do so, the car manufacturer is under increasing pressure to find an appropriate settlement and put an end to the ongoing litigation. If it cannot do so, Volkswagen can ask the CPC to come up with a solution.
While the UK is no longer a member of the EU following Brexit, we believe that the statement should apply to consumers in England and Wales, which was part of the EU at the time the affected vehicles were sold.
Keller Lenkner UK is holding the Volkswagen Group to account for breaking the law and deceiving its customers. Volkswagen diesel owners may be entitled to thousands of pounds each. If you purchased or leased a Volkswagen diesel vehicle between June 2008 and the present day, you may qualify for a claim.