The ongoing emissions scandal surrounding troubled German manufacturer Volkswagen (VW) shows no sign of abating. Indeed a recent investigation has highlighted what may be further evidence of a cover up within the industry. A wide range of Audi and Seat models, all of which form part of the wider VW Group, have had official fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions figures revised, meaning that the cars have been classified as both less economical and higher emitting than previously stated.
VW have strenuously denied any wrongdoing, citing the wider automotive industry practices of revising such figures throughout a vehicle’s production cycle, but the changes have come at a time when the motor trade’s eyes are firmly fixed on the German giant. To make matters worse, the figures were revised just after the company issued a statement suggesting that their own investigations had all but finished, and were not very well publicised, hence the suggestion of a cover up.
The cars affected include various models of the Audi A1, A4 and Q3, while Seat have raised the official emissions numbers for more than two dozen of their popular Ibiza and Leon models; this will naturally have a wider impact on consumers already low in confidence, and may lead to legal action or a demand for compensation from those who purchased the vehicles based on CO2 emissions or fuel economy figures. One example for consumers to consider is the Audi A4 3.0 V6 TDI Quattro S line saloon, whose new CO2 level means that vehicle excise duty (VED) rises by £80 per annum. Many of the changes mean that owners will face a rise in VED, as well as higher fuel spending over both short and long term. The cost of a standard insurance policy should remain unaffected, but the overall costs of ownership of these vehicles has been adversely impacted by the new figures.
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As these changes in figures affect both new and used cars, there will almost certainly be repercussions on the forecourt, with consumers, already low in confidence with the VW brand, perhaps seeking to buy other marques that they trust more. Sales of company cars could also be affected, with some fleets needing to be changed as emission levels are raised past a company’s permitted maximum level. For sure, there will be fewer VW Group cars seen on trade plates if and when sales figures start to decline.
There has already been talk of compensation from the VW Group both to company fleet owners and to individuals, but whether this will materialise – or be sufficient to combat the declining public perception of the company – remains to be seen.