VW Dieselgate damage could have been worse
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The European Commission has urged the German car giant to ensure payments are guaranteed to consumers across the bloc and not just in Germany. The carmaker has admitted wrongdoing after misleading customers over the emissions of the vehicles they bought in the 2015 scandal. The admission has triggered a series of legal cases, some of which have since come before the European Court of Justice.
EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders said: “There have been court rulings exposing Volkswagen’s unfair treatment of consumers, and yet the car maker is not willing to work with consumer organisations to find appropriate solutions for consumers.
“As I wrote to the company last year, not only consumers residing in Germany, but all consumers need to be compensated.”
Volkswagen pleaded for eurocrats to drop the demands, saying voluntary payments to European customers outside Germany were not justified.
The carmaker said affected vehicles have now been modified to meet legal requirements.
But the Commission responded: “The company’s position has not changed despite recent EU and national court decisions which is why the Commission and EU consumer authorities are mounting the pressure.”
In a statement, the EU’s Brussels-based executive noted Volkswagen had sold 8.5 million vehicles in the EU that had been outfitted with a device to cheat emissions tests up until 2015.
Mr Reynders added: “Not only consumers residing in Germany, but all consumers need to be compensated.”
Multiple national and EU courts have already rejected Volkswagen’s argument that it doesn’t need to compensate consumers outside of Germany.
Earlier this year, a Dutch court rules that owners of rigged Volkswagen, Audi, Seat or Skoda are entitled to £2,600.
Owners of second-hand cars are entitled to £1,300.
In total, some 150,000 people are entitled to such compensation in the Netherlands.
The carmaker has appealed the decision.
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In a statement, Volkswagen said: “We believe that car owners in the Netherlands have not suffered any economic loss because of the issue.”
The EU’s Consumer Protection Authority has conceded that it cannot order Volkswagen to pay compensation.
But it can demand the carmaker to agree to an “appropriate solution” to “close this chapter avoiding further years of litigation”.
Volkswagen can alternatively ask the EU agency to come up with a solution to end the battle.
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According to Volkswagen, the Dieselgate scandal has cost the firm around £27 billion.
The German firm has previously said it expects to fork out £1 billion more in 2021 in more settlements.
But this figure would drastically increase if Volkswagen was forced to compensate all EU consumers hit by the scandal.
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