Millions of UK drivers of Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and SEAT cars affected by unfolding emissions scandal and will have their cars ‘corrected’
Just below 1.2 million Volkswagen Group cars in the UK have ‘defeat device’ software installed to circumvent air pollution emissions tests, the German carmaker revealed today (September 30).
The number – 1,189,906 UK vehicles – includes certain diesel cars with EA 189 Euro 5 engines manufactured under VW Group brands including Audi, SEAT, Skoda and Volkswagen Passenger and Commercial vehicles.
VW Group customers driving affected diesel cars in the UK are to be contacted by the firm “step by stepâ€? with details of the process to get their vehicles corrected “in the near futureâ€?.
Volkswagen has said that new diesel vehicles with Euro 6 engines – as well as all petrol, V6 TDI and V8 TDI models –are not affected by the emissions test cheating scandal, over which one VW Group board member has suggested that some staff acted criminally.
According to Volkswagen, the Vehicle Identification Number details of affected cars will be released to retailers. In addition, a self-serve process for customers to check if their vehicle is affected will be set up by the car firm.
Responding to the announcement today, UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “The government’s priority is to protect the public and I understand VW are contacting all UK customers affected. I have made clear to the managing director this needs to happen as soon as possible.
“The government expects VW to set out quickly next steps it will take to correct the problem and support owners of these vehicles already purchased in the UK.”
The specific numbers of vehicles in the UK affected per brand are as follows:
An internal investigation last week established that a service procedure is required for some five million vehicles with Type EA 189 diesel engines from the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand, from a total of 11 million VW Group vehicles worldwide previously believed to be potentially affected.
The carmaker announced an action plan yesterday (September 29) to “correct the emissions characteristicsâ€? of its diesel vehicles, while assuring that all vehicles are “technically safe and roadworthyâ€?.
The plan will firstly see affected customers informed that their vehicles will need correcting and all of the VW Group’s brands will set up “national websites to update customers on developmentsâ€?, with technical solutions to retrofit affected cars to be presented to responsible authorities next month.
Volkswagen Group UK said it is “committed to supporting its customers and its retailers through the coming weeksâ€?.
Volkswagen, the world’s biggest carmaker, has this month been embroiled in a continually-unfolding scandal since its admission that it deliberately installed software on a number of its diesel cars around the world in order to manipulate emissions tests, which are designed to regulate emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx).
As a result, it has been suggested that some of VW’s diesel vehicles are emitting higher levels of NOx and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on the road than what is permitted in regulated emissions testing.
The scandal has led to the resignation of its global chief executive and drop in the company’s share price of around a third. The company now also faces potential fines running into the billions and has set aside further billions for recalling affected cars and correcting the issue.
In the UK, amid suspicions that other car manufacturers may also have attempted to manipulate emissions testing, the government has announced that the Vehicle Certification Agency will be re-running emissions tests on a number of vehicles.
However, there have been suggestions that the Department for Transport knew that some diesel vehicles had been circumventing emissions tests more than a year ago, alongside calls for a fully independent investigation into the scandal.
Friends of the Earth has written to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin calling for him to confirm whether the UK government knew of emissions test cheating prior to it becoming public knowledge this month.
Craig Bennett, the campaign group’s chief executive, said: “The UK’s investigation is urgent and must be independent, but that should only be the start – the Government must remove the worst diesel vehicles from pollution hotspots now and then set out a timetable to ban diesel altogether by the earliest feasible date.â€?