The impact of the VW diesel emissions scandal is really starting to be felt. All the 1.2 million UK vehicles ( EA 189 engines) affected will need to be recalled and fixed by the end of 2016. As the scandal affects VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda the impact could be quite far reaching. The VW Group have a three stage plan in place. VW have confirmed that 1.2 litre and 2.0 litre diesel engines will need a software fix but 1.6 litre diesels will also need to have new injectors fitted. So about 400,00 cars in the UK will need mechanical changes. When VW UK boss Paul Willis met with the House of Commons’ Select Committee he failed to confirm if VW would compensate owners.
All this leaves owners and VW in a bit of a quandary. VW have an online service where you can input your VIN number and see if your car is affected by the issue and they will contact customers on an individual basis anyway to undertake the recalls. However, the main problem is that once the test cheat software is removed and cars undergo emission testing again will the cars still be able to produce the same emission levels as in the initial official tests? If not, then owners can make a claims for fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of the 1979 Sale of Goods Act. Paul Willis has side stepped the issue of compensation but in America the VW Group are already facing individual lawsuits and the company is having to consider customer compensation over there. American authorities have also slapped VW with a bill for £12 billion for breaching the US Clean Air Act. Plunges in share prices, lost customer trust and serious corporate reputational damage are also adding to VW’s woes across its brands. VW have ring fenced £5bn to deal with the issue but as the problem is global and affects 11 million cars and five brands it may not be enough.
But someone’s cloud has a silver lining for someone else. Solicitors are rubbing their paws with glee at the prospect of making nice fees off the back of litigation cases. In the UK Slater & Gordon are already looking into the possibility of UK consumers bringing legal action against VW and their associated brands, Audi, Skoda and SEAT. They have a link on their website where you can check to see if your car is affected and they are openly inviting VW owners and shareholders to contact them. Their plan seems to be to get people registered and when legal action kicks into place they can offer free, no obligation evaluations.
Another company looking set to capitalise on the VW emissions scandal is Hollywood heartthrob Leonard DiCaprio’s production company Appian Way. The Hollywood Reporter claims that DiCaprio plans to produce a film about the scandal although there is no word yet on if he will star in it. Apparently the film is in the early stage of development and a writer, director and cast have yet to be decided and announced. DiCaprio is a huge supporter of environmental issues and is said to be right behind the idea. Appian Way have bought the rights to a book proposal by Jack Ewing. The book is yet to be titled but is pitched as a depiction of the auto industry and will look at how a “more, better, faster” ethos helped grow one of corporate history’s biggest frauds.
So it looks like the VW emission scandal will rumble on for some time to come. Are you a VW owner affected by the scandal, if so, tell us your story!