Emission Implausible

Volkswagen forking out billions in ‘dieselgate’ scandal, and many more manufacturers are expected to cough up too, after cheating emissions tests – you may be affected

We all try to be more environmentally-friendly, right?

Whether it’s reusing bags, cycling to work, recycling, upcycling or turning down the heating at home, we all try to do our bit these days.

And motorists are no different – in recent years many drivers opted to buy a diesel car, believing they were far better for the planet that their petrol-powered counterparts. It’s not difficult to understand why.

Diesel was the fuel of choice for the long-distance driver, with better miles-per-gallon efficiency and less CO2 emitted, and with fewer moving parts than a petrol engine there was less to go wrong

At one time, the UK Government offered incentives for petrolheads to convert and become diesel-driving motorists, such was the evidence backing diesel’s ‘green’ credentials.

HARMFUL: When vehicles fitted with 'defeat devices' sensed they were no longer being tested they emitted 40 times the permitted levels of pollution

But, how can claims that diesel was the greener option be verified? Well, that’s why standardised testing to measure the emissions spewed out by diesel vehicles coming onto the market was brought in.

And that’s where the problem with diesel-powered cars comes in.

Virtually all of the world’s major car manufacturers have found a way to tamper with the regulators’ scientific studies of their diesel engines. 

In an emissions scandal that, somewhat predictably, has become known as ‘Dieselgate’, car makers have been found to have installed ‘defeat devices’ to their vehicles. This essentially meant that software was installed that sensed when they were undergoing test conditions and temporarily adjusted the emissions accordingly.

ROAD TO THE TOP: Volkswagen is the UK’s third most popular car maker, behind Ford and Vauxhall, accounting for around a 9% share of the market

Tests that were designed to ensure vehicles limited the carbon dioxide pollution of new cars were fraudulently passed. Those same vehicles were, in the real world, spewing out 40 times the EU’s legally permitted amount of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant that’s heavily linked to respiratory diseases and environmental harm.

In addition, customers claim they have been misled by Volkswagen in terms of the sustainability ratings of cars they bought in good faith, based in part on the emissions test findings. In several cases the drivers say the disparity has a negative effect on the value of their cars.

One of the planet’s best-known and most popular manufacturers, Volkswagen is paying out nearly £200million to settle a High Court claim over the ‘defeat devices’ in 1.2m cars in England and Wales. The German firm was found to have fitted the devices to more than a million cars in the UK, and 11m worldwide.

The fines, compensation and settlements are costing VW – who also produce Audis, Seats and Skodas – billions around the world. The German firm maintains that their use of the devices is not illegal.

An estimated 91,000 motorists in the UK are affected by VW’s use of ‘defeat devices’ and the scandal is far more widespread than any one car maker.

Which models had ‘defeat devices’ fitted to them to pass emissions tests?

Manufacturers believed to have used devices to doctor the pollution and emissions tests are:

Alfa Romeo

Audi

BMW

Citroen

Daimler

Fiat

Ford

General Motors

Honda

Hyundai

Iveco

Jaguar

Jeep

Kia

Land Rover

Mazda

Mercedes

Mitsubishi

Nissan

Renault

Peugeot

Porsche

Seat

Skoda

SsangYong

Subaru

Suzuki

Vauxhall

Volkswagen

Volvo

Volkswagen say that their settling of claims does not represent an admission of guilt, but is a ‘commercially prudent’ course of action, preferable to a court trial that could have been costly and stretched to six months, perhaps more.

Had the case gone to trial, as was expected in the new year, it would have been the biggest litigation case ever brought by a group of consumers in England and Wales.

An official statement released by the manufacturer says: “No admissions in respect of liability, causation or loss have been made by any of the defendants in the group action as part of the settlement.

WHEEL DEAL: VW have agreed to pay out nearly £200m to claimants but have not admitted liability
WHEEL DEAL: VW have agreed to pay out nearly £200m to claimants but have not admitted liability

“In Volkswagen’s view, the legal costs of litigating this case to a six-month trial in England, and then in relation to any further appeals by either party, were such that settlement was the most prudent course of action commercially.

“The Volkswagen Group would, once again, like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to their customers for the two-mode software installed in the EA189 vehicles.”

So what happens now?

Well, it isn’t the end of the road for dieselgate – the number of people in the UK believed to be making claims against their car manufacturer is running into seven figures. And the scandal is far more widespread than simply involving VW and its subsidiary makes. The list above may be extensive but it isn’t exhaustive.

If you have bought a diesel vehicle that was first registered between 2009 and 2020, the manufacturer may have fitted defeat devices, which cheat the emission tests and ensure their vehicles’ readings were lower.

For a quick check, click the button below – it will take you to a page where you can enter your vehicle’s registration number. We should then be able to tell you within moments if you have a case for claiming compensation.

Car manufacturers are, unsurprisingly, refuting the claims that they cheated on emission tests. And, again, Volkswagen have not admitted any liability on their part in the scandal but, with around 90,000 motorists affected by dieselgate, is simply the most commercially prudent course of action for them.

Other manufacturers believed to have been using defeat devices are queuing up to rebuff claims of liability. From BMW to Volvo, the denials are coming thick and fast. And even VW are taking steps to nip in the bud fresh claims relating to newer diesel engines in VWs, Audis, Skodas, Seats and Porsches.

ROAD TO REDEMPTION: If your diesel vehicle is less green than you thought and you’re feeling blue you need to take action

So, it’s apparent that there are cases for the manufacturers to answer.

If you bought or leased a diesel vehicle in the UK – either from new or second-hand – you may have a case for claiming compensation, even if you no longer own the vehicle.

This can be any diesel vehicle bought for personal use or for business use if the contract was in your name.

Your claim is likely to be based on one or more of the following factors:

  • Had you had the correct information regarding a vehicle’s emissions, you would not have bought it.
  • You paid more for the vehicle than you would otherwise have done, based on its environmentally-friendly credentials.
  • If the vehicle had to be fixed to comply with standards it would have had an effect on its efficiency, which could lower its value and/or cause great expense to you.

Remember, Barings Law can take on your case with no risk to you, thanks to our no-win no-fee policy. If we don’t win your claim you won’t pay a penny for our legal services.

We should be able to tell you if you have a valid case to claim compensation, and there’s absolutely no obligation. Speak to one of our trained advisers TODAY by calling 0161 200 9960 or, if you prefer, click the icon at the bottom-right of this page to start a webchat.