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19th Jan 2019

Investigation

VW website to inform European consumers about cheating

  • VW promises to "inform customers online via a single, clear and transparent multilingual website" (Photo: Brett Levin)

Volkswagen will set up a single website to inform European consumers about cars equipped with cheating software, the carmaker told the European Commission in a letter seen by this website.

Francisco Garcia Sanz, member of the company's board of management, wrote that the company would “reinforce communication towards our customers via personal contacts within our dealership and in direct communication with the Volkswagen Group”.

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“We will also inform customers online via a single, clear and transparent multilingual website on which all pertinent information will be communicated directly from the Volkswagen Group,” he wrote.

The firm also repeated a promise to inform all customers by the end of this year and “to have all cars repaired by autumn 2017”.

The letter was dated Friday 23 September and addressed to EU consumer affairs commissioner Vera Jourova.

It came after Jourova and Garcia Sanz had met in Brussels on Wednesday.

Following the meeting, the commission announced VW had committed to an EU-wide action plan.

In his letter, VW executive Garcia told Jourova the company “fully commits to what has been agreed” on Wednesday, writing that it “is offering a comprehensive and transparent action plan”.

Accelerating, one year later

“The fair treatment of European consumers, in full respect of EU consumer legislation is of pivotal interest for us,” he wrote, adding that VW “has committed to accelerating” the process to bring diesel cars into conformity of EU law.

The VW scandal, which involved emissions cheating by models of the brands Volkswagen, Skoda, Seat, and Audi, became public a year ago.

While most of the affected cars are driving around in Europe, it is US consumers who have been offered financial compensation.

It is also US authorities that have been threatening to slap “substantial penalties” on VW for breaking the law, while no European authority has yet indicted the German industrial giant.

VW has set up websites about “the diesel issue” in some EU countries, but according to the EU commission, the quality of information varies too much.

“We have had conversations with all the consumer organisations from all over Europe and one of the main worries by consumer organisations was that customers are not informed in the same way, that it is not transparent enough, and that these things take too much time,” said commission spokesman Christian Wigand on Friday.

“In a first step, this is being addressed now,” said Wigand. “This is a positive step, but of course we will continue to follow this up and to closely monitor the outcome.”

Civil society organisations however, said they were disappointed at the announcement of the action plan last week.

VW: EU's action plan is 'nothing new'

Consumer affairs commissioner Jourova said Volkswagen has "committed to an EU-wide action plan", but the promise contains little news value according to the carmaker itself.

EU urges consumer groups to go after VW

European consumer groups met in Brussels to discuss strategy and tactics on how to have Volkswagen Group compensate owners of cars with cheating software.

VW 'partially' delivers on EU-wide plan

German carmaker had promised the EU that all its citizens who own a diesel car with cheating software would be informed by the end of the year, but now it says it needs more time.

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