German car manufacturer Volkswagen is in hot water again, years after the Dieselgate emissions scandal first broke in 2015. According to the European Union, VW has been taking too much time in paying compensation to its victims. Didier Reynders, EU Justice Commissioner, said that the automaker has refused to coordinate with consumer groups and come up with viable solutions to help affected consumers.
Although Volkswagen has spent billions on fines, damages, court fees, and refunds over the years, the payouts for compensation concentrated only on the US and Germany. For some reason, the manufacturer opted to compensate only select drivers, leaving consumers outside of or not residing in Germany (or the US) in the dark.
There are approximately 900,000 affected VW car owners in France, some 150,000 in the Netherlands, and around 400,000 affected consumers in Belgium. All of them have not received any payouts from Volkswagen.
Meanwhile, VW is spending a total of approximately €750 million in compensating over 230,000 vehicle owners in Germany. A significant amount of the €32 billion that the manufacturer has spent on the fines, damages, and refunds have been paid to US authorities and affected VW car owners.
In 2020, VW and the consumer association in Germany came up with an out-of-court settlement that gave each car owner compensation between €1,350 and €6,257. Apart from this, however, the manufacturer has also had to settle individual civil cases out of court, and the payments for these have never been published.
Authorities are urging the German manufacturer to compensate all consumers, particularly those who are non-residents of Germany. However, VW refuses to do so because according to them, the affected vehicles have already been upgraded to adhere to legal requirements.
For its part, the EU continues to put pressure on VW so the manufacturer will finally pay the compensation affected consumers deserve.
The Dieselgate scandal
Volkswagen’s woes started in 2015 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered defeat devices in thousands of their diesel vehicles. The EPA found the amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emitted by these vehicles to be over the legal limit when driven on the road, outside of lab tests. Initially, the manufacturer denied the allegations but later on admitted to using the cheat devices on the cars they sold in the U.S. Volkswagen eventually pleaded guilty to fraud in 2017.
A defeat device or cheat software is used to detect when a car is about to be tested so it can automatically lower NOx emissions. As a result, the vehicle’s emissions during tests are always within the legal limits. What VW did was deceive their customers by telling them that the vehicles they are buying are environmentally friendly and safe. In reality, what the customers were getting was cars that emitted an amount of nitrogen oxides that exceeded legal limits when the automobiles were operated in real-world driving conditions.
Aside from lying, Volkswagen also endangered the lives of their customers. The vehicles emit nitrogen oxides, which are not only a danger to the environment, but also have devastating effects on human health.
Nitrogen oxides or NOx are harmful gases that contain nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide. They help form acid rain, smog, and ground-level ozone. They are also partly responsible for producing fine particulate matter, or PM2.5.
Exposure to nitrogen oxides can cause the following health issues:
- Breathing problems/shortness of breath
- Asthma or aggravated asthma
- Lung damage
- Fluid build-up in lungs
- Upper respiratory tract and throat tissues swelling and spasm
In severe cases, NOx exposure can lead to serious cases of cardiovascular and lung diseases, cancer, and premature death.
Fine particulate matter or PM2.5, on the other hand, can easily travel into the lungs. This can lead to short-term health issues such as sneezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and runny nose. Longer exposure can lead to serious health effects like heart disease and asthma. If the exposure increases regularly over a period of time, the issues become more severe:
- Increased hospital admissions due to cardiovascular and respiratory issues
- Reduced lung function
- Chronic bronchitis
- Lung cancer
- Premature death
Some studies have also shown evidence that exposure to NOx can trigger depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
Vehicles with defeat devices have also contributed to poor air quality, which is why authorities continue to pressure manufacturers implicated in the scandal. Aside from Volkswagen, there’s also a Mercedes Benz emissions scandal and other brands like Renault, BMW, Alfa Romeo, and Fiat were also alleged to have used the cheat software.
If you have been deceived by Volkswagen, the Mercedes Dieselgate scandal, or any of the manufacturers that installed defeat devices, you can file for an emission compensation claim. Get in touch with a team of emissions experts to help you with the requirements and process. It can be quite tedious and challenging, so having an experienced team will significantly help.
You don’t have to worry about expenses as most teams offer a no-win-no-fee guarantee. So even if your case is not successful, you don’t have to pay for anything. Just make sure you work with a team like the ones you’ll find at Emissions.co.uk. They’ll help you every step of the way.