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8th May 2021

VW 'partially' delivers on EU-wide plan

  • Volkswagen is treating European consumers very differently than its North American consumers (Photo: Volkswagen Belgium)

The Volkswagen Group (VW) has “partially delivered” on promises it made to the European Commission to improve its communication with European car owners affected by its emissions fraud, a commission spokesman said Thursday (22 December).

VW had promised in September that all 8.5 million Europeans who own a diesel car with emissions cheating software would be informed about the recall of their cars by the end of 2016.

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However, VW has informed the EU that it will take until early 2017 before all customers are informed.

The company also said it would stick to the promise of having all cars repaired by autumn 2017 and start a public information campaign in January.

EU commission spokesman, Christian Wigand, said there had been contact between the commission and Volkswagen this week.

However, three months after VW promised consumer affairs commissioner Vera Jourova that it would set up “a single, clear and transparent multilingual website” to inform consumers, it has not been set up.

“I don't think the multilingual website exists yet,” said Wigand.

VW also told the EU that for 7.8 million of the affected 8.5 million cars it has received clearance from the relevant authority to remove the cheating software.

Not only Volkswagen brand cars were affected, but also Audi, Skoda, and Seat.

But consumer organisations say that the VW promises made to the commission were rather weak, to begin with.

Meanwhile, VW is still refusing to compensate Europeans affected by the scandal.

On Thursday, the government of Belgium's Wallonia region ended attempts to negotiate a settlement with VW for fiscal and environmental damages, announcing they would sue the German company.

VW's refusal to compensate consumers or authorities in Europe is striking compared to its willingness to strike deals on the other side of the Atlantic.

Also on Thursday, an American plaintiff's committee announced that it had reached a settlement deal with VW on some 80,000 3.0-litre vehicles affected by the scandal.

“Under its terms, class members will receive substantial compensation in addition to an emission modification or buyback, depending on the generation of vehicle,” the committee said in a press release. Figures were not mentioned.

Earlier this year, the plaintiff's committee achieved a settlement for 475,000 affected 2.0-litre cars.

Under that agreement, VW agreed to pay €13.2 billion to compensate US consumers and clean up the environmental damage.

While earlier this week, VW's Canadian daughter company and the Canadian government agreed to a €1.5 billion settlement, to compensate consumers.

A possible explanation for the transatlantic divergence is that in Canada and in particular in the US, VW was – and still is – facing significant fines.

In Europe, however, the German approval authority has said that it thought the recall campaign was enough punishment.

The EU commission earlier this month took legal action against Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and the UK for failing to penalise VW.

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.

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