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Have you been affected by the ‘Diesel Dupe’?


Do you have a diesel vehicle that was manufactured by the Volkswagen Group between 2009 to 2015? If so, there is a chance that you have been affected by software that cheated emission tests, and are entitled to compensation.

The world’s biggest car manufacturer, Volkswagen Group (VW), which includes the Audi, Seat and Skoda brands, is now in the midst of an emissions scandal after the news emerged in the last few weeks about the presence of “emissions cheating software” in approximately 500,000 diesel vehicles.

The vehicles in questions were manufactured between 2009 and 2015, and sold in the United States, but VW has now also admitted that these devices were fitted to European models as well, meaning that there are potentially millions of affected vehicles worldwide.

VW Group

Tests have since shown that the amount of nitrous oxide emitted from the affected vehicles is up to 40 times more than was emitted in the testing environment.

VW is the first manufacturer to be challenged about such software, and whilst no blame has yet been attached to anyone within VW, they have been quick to act in replacing the Chief Executive who has resigned in the wake of the crisis.

Who knows whether other vehicle manufacturers have been doing the same? VW’s ‘diesel dupe’ could be the small chip that is about to create a huge crack in the UK automotive industry’s windscreen.

Is it safe to drive an affected Volkswagen vehicle?

This news no doubt comes as a major concern to the thousands of UK motorists who own a diesel VW car or van.

The good news is that there appears to be nothing to indicate that the emissions cheating software affects the safety of the vehicles, so drivers are fine to continue motoring as usual. Managers in the car insurance sector have also confirmed that the issues will have no implications for insurance premiums.

This is good news for motorists, but the following questions are raised:

  • Will my vehicle become more expensive to tax?
  • Will my vehicle fail emissions testing as part of its MOT?
  • Will I be able to resell my vehicle, and will the scandal impact upon the value of second hand VW vehicles?
  • Have I been inadvertently adding to global warming?
  • Do I have a claim against Volkswagen Group in relation to my vehicle?

Consumers have been waiting for VW to respond to these questions over the last few weeks since news of the scandal first broke in the media.

Do I have a claim?

It has been reported that Volkswagen owners are already mounting a class action in the USA, and it is likely that UK car owners may follow suit.

Early indications suggest that the adverse publicity generated through the emissions scandal has already hit resales of VW cars, which fell 0.2% in September 2015 in comparison to a 2.8% rise in used-car resales in the wider market as a whole.

The latest news from VW is that, as part of their “action plan”, owners of affected vehicles will be contacted in the next few weeks with an offer of a repair to their vehicles free of charge. Despite the planned recall, there is no reason why owners of UK vehicles could not, in appropriate circumstances, advance claims; for example, in relation to misrepresentations on breach of contract relating to emissions data.

Owners could seek to be compensated for their increased fuel costs, depreciation of the vehicle value, and losses incurred due to the repair to resolve the issue.

It is difficult at this stage to ascertain how the levels of losses would be calculated until further information is available.

What are my rights?

Your rights and remedies may well differ subject to the manner in which you purchased and paid for your vehicle, when this occurred, and whether you purchased the vehicle as a consumer.

There is also talk of investors of VW pursuing claims against the company on the basis of the significant fall in share price due to the company making public misleading statements. At the time of writing, the share price had fallen by over 30%. It remains to be seen, however, whether this type of claim will in fact be successful.

Reputational harm

Even if faced with legal claims, these are unlikely to be VW’s major worry.

Despite the company having set aside around £4.7 billion to deal with the crisis, the reputational harm caused to the VW brand by the emissions scandal will take significantly longer to repair than the software itself. For a brand that models itself on being the “people’s car”, consumer confidence is key.

There are also indications that VW will face fines from US regulators, so much so that the manufacturer has already employed US law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, the same firm who defended BP over the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, to assist them.

Have you been affected in any way by the emissions cheating software in Volkswagen Group vehicles?

If you are unsure or concerned about owning an affected vehicle from the Volkswagen Group, our manufacturing lawyers can cast an experienced eye over your situation and confirm your legal position. We can then determine which avenues are available to you to seek necessary compensation.

Our team of manufacturing and engineering lawyers are always on hand to provide any help or advice that you may require. Please contact Nick Booth at Harrison Drury Solicitors in Preston on 01772 258321.

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