Car-maker Volkswagen has defended its progress in removing emissions test ‘defeat-devices’ in more than 1 million of its vehicles sold in the UK.
The comments come after the chair of the House of Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee, Mary Creagh, claimed that progress to fix Volkswagen-manufactured cars fitted with the devices had stalled.
Around 800,000 of the 1.2 million VW-made cars sold in the UK have received a technical fix to prevent the use of the defeat device, following a pledge by the carmaker to address the issue in late 2015.
The issue affects engines manufactured under VW Group brands including Audi, SEAT, Skoda and Volkswagen Passenger and Commercial vehicles (see airqualitynews.com story).
However, according to Mrs Creagh, Department for Transport figures suggest that the rate of fixes had declined from a high of 10% of affected cars per month in February 2017 to 2% of affected cars per month currently.
In response to the comments, VW has claimed that a drop-off in the number of vehicles fixed had been anticipated, and added that reaching a 100% fix-rate for its vehicles was ‘unlikely’.
A spokesman for VW said: “As of 4 November 2017 we have implemented technical measures in 810,134 of the 1.1 million affected vehicles in the UK. The campaign is a voluntary service action rather than a safety recall. As is always the case in such campaigns, it commences slowly then rises steeply and the response rate falls as time progresses.
“The campaign will remain open for the foreseeable future but the 100% point can never be reached for the following reasons: some vehicles will have been scrapped, some written off, some exported and some owners decline or never respond.â€?
Volkswagen was at the centre of the ‘dieselgate’ scandal which broke in September 2015, when the German carmaker admitted it had cheated emissions tests for some of its cars.
Use of a ‘defeat device’ results in cars meeting emissions standards in the laboratory, despite emitting NOx at much greater levels during normal driving conditions, using a ‘cycle recognition strategy’.
Other carmakers also became embroiled in the controversy, which suggested that there could have been a wider reaching manipulation of emissions testing programmes to hide non-compliance with emissions limits for vehicles.
This month, Mrs Creagh has written to the Department for Transport to call for an explanation as to the slow-down in fixes to cars and demanded the release of the details of progress meetings between the Department and Volkswagen on the issue.
The MP said: “It is over two years since the VW emissions scandal was discovered, a third of vehicles have yet to be fixed and rates have slowed considerably. We have written to the Department for Transport to ask what action they are taking in response to the stalled progress.
“It is essential that the vehicles on Britain’s roads adhere to emissions regulations, particularly as the country is faced with dangerous levels of pollution. The Department must take responsibility for ensuring that these fixes are completed as soon as possible.â€?
Responding to the comments today, a DfT spokesperson said: “The UK government continues to take the unacceptable actions of Volkswagen extremely seriously and is working hard on behalf of UK consumers.
“Officials in the Department for Transport hold monthly meetings with representatives from Volkswagen for information on the number of updates applied across all of the affected brands and to press them on remaining issues.â€?