The majority of Volkswagen owners caught up in the emissions scandal still don’t know when their car will be repaired. After Volkswagen was found guilty of cheating vehicle emissions tests in America in September 2015, it promised to put things right for Volkswagen owners. It claimed it wanted “to regain the trust of our customers.” But the majority of affected drivers have been waiting for more than a year.
The German car giant scrambled to reduce the fall out from one of the biggest scandals in corporate history. In doing so it promised to compensate American consumers who’d bought one of Volkswagen’s much-hyped ‘clean diesel’ models.
In the UK, to date, there has been no such offer. Drivers have only been offered a free repair of their car, which will be carried out at the relevant franchised dealership. Diesel-powered cars from VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda are affected. The result is that 1.2 million models sold to British drivers need repairing.
More than 900,000 UK drivers awaiting repairs
To date, VW is reported to have fixed only 295,000 cars. That leaves more than 900,000 Volkswagen owners awaiting the repair – and still operating with the illegal software designed to cheat emissions tests.
Last October, Paul Willis, managing director of Volkswagen group UK, told MPs on the transport select committee: “In the United Kingdom I intend to contact every single customer to try to call those cars back . . . We will put those cars right to regain the trust of our customers.”
Many drivers complain that they are unable to sell their car without the repair carried out. Or, if they are able to, it’s at a price that is below market value.
The majority of cars are bought using finance products, such as a Personal Contract Purchase (PCP). Owners of affected VW Group models say that once they reach the end of their finance agreement, they can’t sell the car to a third party. This is how drivers typically achieve the best possible return on their investment.
Some owners say they have received sales literature from Volkswagen Financial Services, which tries to sell them another Volkswagen. But the finance arm has failed to address the difficult position owners of affected models find themselves in.
In Germany, MyRight, a consumer group organisation, announced today that it is leading a battle in the courts to ensure German owners of these diesel models have the right to hand their car back to Volkswagen and be reimbursed for the full sale price.
What communication should owners of affected VWs have received?
Volkswagen and the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) should have written to owners of effected models. Letters contain the vehicle registration and chassis number of the car, and refer to the EA 189 service action.
What timeframe has Volkswagen given for repairs to be carried out?
VW is not specific about timings. It states that implementation of the technical measures will continue into 2017. The company adds that all affected vehicles remain technically safe and roadworthy.
How can UK drivers check if their model is affected?
Visit the dedicated websites for Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda. You’ll need to enter the vehicle’s VIN number – Vehicle Identification Number. This is printed on part one of the vehicle registration certificate, or inside the car’s service book, or it is often visible at the base of the car’s windscreen. In case of the latter, the car’s handbook will explain how this can be found.
What if drivers want to consider legal action against the Volkswagen Group?
You won’t be alone. Drivers who believe they should be compensated for VW’s actions are registering their details with Leigh Day. Both firms offer advice to affected owners.
James is a motoring journalist and former magazine editor at BBC Top Gear and Auto Express. He has scooped, reported on and reviewed most new cars of the past 20 years, and currently contributes to the Driving section of The Sunday Times.