The Volkswagen emission scandal just got uglier as Audi admitted to fitting the ‘cheat switch’ in 2.1 million vehicles globally. This means that about a million European Audi drivers are affected by this scam.
Subsequent to an inspection conducted by the US Environment Protection Agency, wherein 11 million cars were found to have the ‘cheat switch’ installed in them to circumvent environment-related regulatory requirements, Audi, a Volkswagen brand, confirmed that about 2.1 million of its cars shipped globally were fitted with the switch. This translates to about 1.4 million affected European Audi owners and drivers.
The problem of the ‘cheat switch’ is associated with Type EA 189 engines used in different models like Audi A3, Golf and the Passat. Audi cars that are likely to be affected include A1, A3, A4, A5, A6, TT, Q3 and Q5. Other brands of VW are yet to confirm if their vehicles are affected by this scandal. VW confirmed that if the vehicle is fitted with an EU 6 diesel engine, then there is no cause for worry.
Earlier this month, Volkswagen’s CEO, Martin Winterkorn, had resigned taking moral responsibility for the scam. While other details are yet to become clear, there could be some financial implications for European drivers.
A solicitor from a reputed law firm, Leigh Day, was of the opinion that most owners invested in these ‘clean green’ vehicles to avail of special tax benefits. So if these vehicles were not what they were supposed to be, then these drivers might face a financial loss.
This is because, in the UK, vehicle tax is directly dependent on the carbon emissions of the car. Low-emission vehicles do not attract any tax at all. Now, if it turns out that Volkswagen has been playing around with the ‘cheat switch’ then the carbon emissions could be in the higher taxing range which means that the driver/owner would have to pay more tax. Other financial losses could include paying more for fuel, larger repair bills and a drop in prices driven by the scandal.
Jacqueline Young, who heads group litigation in another law firm, Slater and Gordon said,’ People choose a diesel car because they want economy in fuel and emissions. They pay a premium for that’.
A consumer watchdog called ‘Which?’ said, ‘In the event of a UK recall, the manufacturer should initiate contact with you. Arrangements will then be made concerning a repair, likely to be undertaken at a dealer convenient for the user’. The expert opined that VW would have to give a courtesy vehicle while the repair/maintenance work is being undertaken.
While many owners are seeking legal help on whether to make compensation claims, solicitors are waiting for a clearer picture to emerge before taking any calls. European and UK government agencies are already investigating the issue.
Some owners are keen on laying claim on compensation as they believe that the cars they bought have cost them more than promised in addition to being quite valueless in the second hand market now.