In one of the biggest scandals to hit the motor trade in recent years, leading manufacturer Volkswagen (VW) admitted to falsifying thousands of diesel car emissions tests using specially fitted devices. Although these tests were carried out in the US, the manufacturer admits that the problem may be global.
Amidst fears of a widespread vehicle recall, affecting nearly half a million cars Stateside and almost 11 million new and used cars across the world, it’s important to remember that the scandal doesn’t affect vehicle safety, merely the level of emissions of the vehicles in question. That said, one of the major selling points of low emission vehicles are their ‘green’ credentials, coupled with lower tax bands for owners of low emitting cars. However, given the fraudulent nature of the results, it is likely that the manufacturer may well be forced to compensate owners or face independent prosecution.
In the UK, government ministers have called upon the manufacturer to make itself accountable. Indeed, MPs have suggested that the global car industry could be wracked with suspicion and lead to a huge loss of consumer confidence. The Department for Transport has confirmed that it will work with bodies such as the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) and will also be writing to manufacturers to discover if the falsified emissions tests affect more than just VW. Should new emissions testing be necessary, it will be carried out by an independent body.
Another key point is that VW are not only responsible for their own vehicles, their engines are also used in many other marques, such as Bentley, Skoda and Audi. Indeed any vehicle which has the EA 189 diesel engine, and which was sold between 2008 and 2015, could be affected by the falsified results. However at this time it isn’t clear whether every car is affected, or whether the devices were only fitted to a limited number of test cars, some of which may never have moved beyond trade plates and the forecourt.
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Should you own a car with the EA 189 engine, the likelihood is that should you be affected, you will be contacted directly by VW; the manufacturer will recall your car and obviously bear the cost of any remedial or repair work needed. Owners are urged not to simply take their car to a dealership without prior notification. A final important point is that the test results also specifically refer to nitrogen oxide emissions – car tax bandings are determined by the levels of carbon dioxide emitted, and should remain unaffected by any new results.
Note also that insurance policy premiums should also not be affected – typical premiums are not based around vehicle emissions. However a car’s value could be lessened if it is deemed to be less efficient, which has both positive and negative effects. Insurance premiums could lower marginally, but resale value may also be affected.