Thousands of motorists have already signed up to claim “dieselgate” compensation after it is alleged manufacturers have cheated their emissions tests.
Legal action has already started against Volkswagen and Mercedes for their potential lies in relation to diesel emissions output. Now, many more manufacturers could be implicated, with 9.6 million UK vehicles potentially being affected.
If manufacturers admit that they have installed so-called “defeat devices” into their vehicles, owners of the affected vehicles could be due up to £12,000 compensation, experts suggest.
Figures indicate that nearly 400,000 UK motorists have already joined the diesel emissions claim over the potential mis-selling. Many industry experts state that this could be the biggest mis-selling outrage since the PPI scandal.
What is the diesel emissions scandal?
The diesel emissions scandal was first brought to our headlines in 2015 when Volkswagen admitted that 11 million of its vehicles worldwide had been fitted with a “defeat device”. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were the first to find that their cars were producing more emissions in real-world conditions, as opposed to laboratory tests.
8.5 million of these cars were located in Europe, with 1.2 million being in the UK. Within the 1.2 million were cars that are owned by the Volkswagen Group, such as:
VW passenger cars – 508,276
Audi – 393,450
SEAT – 76,773
Skoda – 131,569
VW commercial vehicles – 79,838
At the time, Volkswagen forked out an eye-watering $33 billion in regulatory fines, compensation payouts and buyback schemes. The UK court case that will determine if Volkswagen must pay UK residents compensation is due to be completed in 2022.
Now, many more manufacturers are being implicated in similar dieselgate scandals. Scrutiny in the industry has risen ten-fold since the 2015 Dieselgate scandal, which means that regulatory bodies have been applying much more stringent tests when looking at emissions.
Early indications indicate that no fewer than fifteen manufacturers could have installed “defeat devices” to trick emissions tests, including Mercedes, Vauxhall, Ford, and Audi.
If customers are successful in their claim against the manufacturers, they can potentially claim compensation which could rise to £12,000.
What is a defeat device?
The defeat device in question is a clever bit of software that is installed into the vehicles. This software understands when the vehicle is in testing conditions in a laboratory. When it recognizes the test conditions, its emission-reducing controls are turned on to allow the vehicle to lower the emission output.
This means that the vehicle passes the lab test with flying colors, meaning it passes all regulatory tests too. However, once the vehicle is on the road, the software is turned off. This means that the emission-reducing controls are not present, and the vehicle emits much more pollution.
The emission in question is a dangerous pollutant called Nitrogen Oxide, known as NOx. NOx has been known to contribute to various respiratory diseases, cancer, acid rain, and smog.
Tests in America during the 2015 Volkswagen scandal showed that their cars emitted up to 10-40 times more of this dangerous gas than actually advertised.
What has happened with the Volkswagen dieselgate case?
Payouts have already begun in the Volkswagen dieselgate case. In Germany, it is estimated each driver who is due compensation has been paid between £1,140-£5,300. For Americans, this figure is estimated to be between $5,100-$10,000 per driver.
In the UK, Volkswagen has lost a number of court cases. On 7th April 2020, a UK High Court found that the emissions-reducing software which was installed did indeed constitute an unlawful defeat device. A UK court of appeal then rejected Volkswagen’s appeal on 7th August 2020, a landmark ruling in the case.
A Group Litigation Order trial is due to commence in 2022. A decision will be made within this trial whether any compensation should be paid to vehicle owners, and if so, how much. Experts are confident that compensation will be due based on similar cases in Canada, the US, Germany, and Australia.
The ongoing fall-out
The ripple effect of dieselgate was felt throughout the world and is still being felt today. Just last month, fifteen more executives at Volkswagen were charged by German investigators as part of the dieselgate emissions scandal. The executives are accused of aiding and abetting fraud in combination with tax evasion, criminal advertising, and false certification.
Volkswagen is also demanding compensation from its former disgraced CEO, Martin Winterkorn, and the ex-CEO of its Audi branch, Rupert Stadler. Winterkorn resigned as CEO at the time but is still claiming he had no idea about the dodgy dealings.
The implications of the dieselgate scandal creeping into other manufacturers could have a lasting effect on the car industry as a whole. For starters, manufacturers are likely to scrutinize their own in-house practices much more and will ensure that defeat devices are not used in their vehicles. This means that they are likely to put more effort into ensuring their emissions are much lower, which is a positive for everyone.
Manufacturers are also more likely to start focusing on plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles in a bid to move away from diesel vehicles. They were likely to do this anyway, regardless of the dieselgate scandal, but it is likely that the ongoing scandal will hurry things along.
What do the experts say?
Every car manufacturer denies the allegations of wrongdoing, and if the Volkswagen case is anything to by, the other court cases will be heavily disputed by the huge car companies.
Anthony Williams, solicitor and legal consultant to emissions.co.uk said of the scandal:
Manufacturers have coordinated a mass deception of the public and regulatory bodies which has resulted in the mis-selling of vehicles that are damaging our health and environment.
We believe large car manufacturers need to be held to account for the lie on emissions. It is a dangerous lie for which vehicle owners need to be compensated for.
Emissions.co.uk has a panel of solicitors who are battling a number of car manufacturers in order to get justice for vehicle owners if they have been misled and mis-sold. The diesel emissions claims specialists are ensuring that car manufacturers are brought to account, while also making sure we have clean, reliable vehicles on our roads.
You can check if your vehicle is eligible for dieselgate compensation on their website.
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