The Dieselgate scandal that rocked the world in 2015 is still being felt nearly a decade later. After Volkswagen admitted to fitting 11 million of its vehicles with a “cheat device” that altered emissions output, the spotlight was shone on the motoring industry more intensely and investigations have continued to uncover various wrongdoings by multinational manufacturers.
Eight years later, legal experts predict that nearly every manufacturer installed some kind of defeat device software in their diesel vehicles to alter their emissions in order to pass regulatory checks. This may have not only caused significant pollution to the UK environment, but could have hurt driver’s wallets too.
Here, we provide a refresher on the original emission dieselgate scandal, the effects it had on the environment, the nine figure payout from Volkswagen to UK customers last year, and what happens next for diesel cars, the manufacturers, and their customers.
What Is The Emissions Scandal?
The emissions scandal first made headlines in September 2015 when the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) noticed a few discrepancies in their testing of Volkswagen Group vehicles, including Audi, Skoda and SEAT vehicles.
The EPA had found some curious software within the vehicles, later dubbed “defeat devices”. This software could understand when the diesel vehicle was in a laboratory being tested due to certain criteria being hit. When the car recognised it was being tested by a regulatory body, it would enter a lower emissions output engine mode, emitting fewer pollutants, meaning it would pass the regulatory test.
Once the vehicle had passed the test and was in the real-world environment, the diesel emissions from the VW Group vehicles could be up to 40 times more prevalent.
After pressure from the EPA, Volkswagen admitted installing the “defeat device” within 11 million vehicles across the globe, with 1.2 million being in the UK. Class-action lawsuits followed in the US, with Volkswagen Group paying out £26billion in fines and compensation worldwide. Their disgraced CEO, Martin Winterkorn, resigned with many calling for jail sentences.
Now, estimations suggest that millions of vehicles across the globe have been installed with similar cheat devices. Legal experts predict that 9.6 million drivers may have driven a “dirty diesel” at some point in the past decade.
The Effects On Health and The Environment
The biggest effect of the Volkswagen Group (and maybe others) altering their emissions was the increased output of Nitrogen Oxide (NOx). Figures suggest that the affected vehicles could be responsible for an added 237,000-948,000 tonnes of this deadly pollutant globally each year.
NOx contributes to various respiratory diseases and issue, such as:
- Respiratory diseases, including emphysema
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Increased risk of dementia (due to reduction of cognitive abilities)
- More frequent episodes of anxiety and depression
The UK is seeing an increase in NOx related-illnesses, with numerous reports linking pollution to increased risk of cancer, mental illnesses, and premature deaths. In 2020, a UK coroner made legal history by ruling that air pollution was the primary cause of death of the nine-year-old girl, Ella Robert, in London in a landmark case.
In addition to this, a report in the Lancet Planetary Health predicted last year that pollution was responsible for nine million deaths worldwide in 2019, accounting for one in six deaths.
The additional, poisonous NOx that has been released from affected diesels for over a decade will have had a significant affect on these figures, increasing premature deaths and polluting the UK air.
The £193 Million Payout
The Volkswagen Group were taken to court by UK customers in a Group Litigation Order which began in 2019. After much debate through the courts, Volkswagen settled out of court in May 2022, while still denying any wrongdoing.
The Volkswagen Group paid £193 million to approximately 91,000 claimants, equalling an average payout of £2,100 per claimant. VW Group stated that while they still deny wrongdoing, the settlement was the most productive course of action commercially, to avoid the dispute dragging out and racking up legal bills. Volkswagen also agreed to cover all legal fees separately to the compensation payout.
The payout was the first of its kind in the UK, paving the way for more manufacturers to face questions about their own emissions cheat devices. Similar legal actions involving VW are underway in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The Next Chapter Of The Dieselgate Scandal
The Volkswagen Group case has given confidence to legal experts in the UK that other manufacturers will follow suit. Lawyers have suggested that there could be an incredible 9.6 million drivers who may be eligible for similar amounts of compensation, or even up to £12,000 depending on the vehicle cost.
If only one in three of these owners claim and the case is successful, the total payout could match the scale of the PPI scandal, which cost banks £38billion.
Some of the manufacturers allegedly involved in fitting defeat devices into their vehicles include:
- Alfa Romeo
- Land Rover
Compensation is not the only driving factor for many customers, however. Many believe that, if it is proven their vehicle has been fitted with a defeat device, the manufacturer should be held accountable for their lies. Global warming and pollution is rapidly becoming a more pressing issue, and multinational corporations must take accountability for polluting the UK environment – especially if they have knowingly tried to cover it up.
It has also been suggested that many of the vehicles that have been affected by the dieselgate scandal may have worse fuel efficiency once a fix has been applied to the vehicle. This could mean that customers have paid a premium for “greener” luxury vehicles, only to find that they are not green at all and their fuel economy is worse.
Various law firms are encouraging customers to come forward to ensure there is no Dieselgate 2.0 and every manufacturer faces up to their lies if they can be proven. One such website is ours, ClaimExperts.co.uk. We have established a legal panel in order to help people gain more information about the scandal and then lodge their claim. Our legal panel are bringing forward claims on a No Win, No Fee basis to promote access to justice in this area, ensuring there are no barriers to those who do want to file a claim against their manufacturer.
We have created a free sign-up Mailing List on their specific emissions website, Emissions.co.uk, to be kept up to date about your particular manufacturer as more information is uncovered. You can find out more about your diesel claim here. Visit this site for more information about the effects of the dieselgate scandal.
The Diesel BMW, Mercedes and Vauxhall Claims Are Now Open - Click here to be taken to our dedicated site, Emissions.co.uk to make your claim.
We Are Currently Investigating Other Manufacturers For Possible Emissions Claims And Will Update Our Website When These Claims Are Open.
You Could Also Be Eligible For A Mis-Sold PCP Claim.
If you have had a car finance agreement between 2014-2019 you may be eligible to claim thousands. Visit our sister website Undisclosed.co.uk to find out more.
The FCA has found that commission was paid on 95% of UK car finance PCP agreements. If you were not informed about this commission or the finance deal wasn’t right for you, you could be owed thousands in mis-sold car finance compensation.
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