Background: more about dieselgate
On September 18, 2015, the American environmental agency EPA announced that Volkswagen committed fraud in the emission tests. By using cheating software, the emissions of harmful carbon dioxide (NOx) were artificially low during laboratory tests. The car manufacturer (forced by the German road traffic service) proceeded to call back more than 11 million affected diesel cars. By doing so, Volkswagen created the expectation among the public that the emission problem would be solved, without negatively impacting the quality and performance of the affected cars. But in the meantime, it has become apparent that the measures taken do not solve the problem.
In the United States, Volkswagen has now bought back the majority of the cars involved. American car owners have gotten back the purchase value of their car, plus additional damages. In Europe however, Volkswagen announced that a software update would resolve the problem. This update has now been applied to the majority of the affected cars, whether mandatory or not.
Soon after this update, it became clear that this measure is not sufficient.
- In Europe, it is now widely accepted that the software updates offered to car owners so far, did not provide a solution to the emission problem. Even after the software update, the affected cars emit too much harmful carbon dioxide. The European emission standards are still not being met.
- Moreover, in spite of Volkswagen's promise the cars suffer from technical defects as a result of the software update. Defects that in most cases will not repaired for free either by Volkswagen or its dealers.
- Finally, after the update the cars consume more fuel.
For these reasons, the cars involved are not in line with the idea that the cars are good for the environment, neither before or after the software update. An idea that Volkswagen has nonetheless presented to the car owners and the general public.
Meanwhile, more and more European cities (especially in Germany) are introducing so-called driving bans. This means that polluting diesel cars are banned from inner cities. Once again, owners of an affected Volkswagen are disadvantaged.
Political deal in Germany
On Tuesday, October 2, 2018, the German government parties reached an agreement on the approach to the increasing problem of driving bans in large German cities. Car manufacturers have confirmed that they will proceed to offer exchange premiums up to € 10,000 to current diesel owners, when they exchange their old car for a model with a cleaner diesel or petrol engine or for a car that runs on electricity. For a limited group of car owners who live around cities where driving bans are in force or are likely to be introduced, hardware solutions have also been proposed. However, it appears that this will not apply to all affected diesel models. The German government and car manufacturers have not yet reached an agreement on these hardware solutions.
The political deal in Germany acknowledges the problems consumers are facing, as addressed by our foundation. In Germany, it is now widely accepted that the software updates that have been offered to car owners so far, did not provide a solution to the emission problem. The Foundation is of the opinion that the proposed solutions are insufficient to bring the diesel scandal to a close.
Boardmember: Guido van Woerkom,
The foundation has invited Volkswagen to discuss a better solution for Dutch car owners. But until now, the concern has been unwilling to work with the foundation to find a suitable solution.
'The German government proposal is a step in the right direction, but in the end the provided package of measures is far from sufficient. The trade-in premium offered is only attractive for people who can easily afford a new car. The proposed scheme mainly responds to the interests of the car industry, which now has the opportunity to give sales figures an extra boost. Moreover, only a limited group of car owners qualify for the scheme.'
'We are also reading reports that the millions of polluting cars with EURO 5 engines will not really be taken out of circulation, but will be exported to Eastern Europe. If that is true, the cost of the trade-in will remain limited for the car industry and Germany will simply be shifting the environmental problem elsewhere. Also, no agreement has been reached on indemnification or compensation for consumers. All the while, there are technical uncertainties about the effects of the hardware solutions, and it is clear that consumers are spending more money on extra fuel and AdBlue. Therefore, we do not expect this solution to mean the end of consumer claims. The German government has also received no promises for affected car owners elsewhere in Europe.'