Driving a Volkswagen after the scandal – how to get a compensation?

Volkswagen 2015 - Photo by: CHRISTOPHER DOMBRES - Source: Flickr Creative CommonsVolkswagen 2015 - Photo by: CHRISTOPHER DOMBRES - Source: Flickr Creative Commons

After the Volkswagen emission scandal that hit the largest German automotive company involved more than 11 million vehicles worldwide, it is natural for VW drivers to ask if their car still has the same value as it had when they bought it. Not only its actual performance may be at stake, but its actual value if they want to resell it could drop significantly as the VW scandal clears out. However a final financial determination of how much a VW proprietor is going to lose is still far from being reached, as well as whether a consumer’s claim for compensation can be really filed or not.

The German car colossus lost almost one-third of its stock market value after the emission scandal that broke in the last few months. A group of US researchers found a “defeating device” inside turbodiesel engines that actually cheated emission tests, providing false results for nitrogen oxide and dioxide (NOx) tests. Recently the company admitted that this software also understated CO2 emissions, increasing the actual number of the vehicle involved from the 500,000 originally identified only in the US. Diesel cars equipped with the cheating software included also Audi, Skoda, Seat, and VW Commercial vehicles with over 1,2 million vehicles only in the UK, not including gasoline and petrol engine cars.

Volkswagen already set aside €6,7 billion (about $7,3 billion) to cover the costs customers are going to sustain to refit their vehicles, but it will only affect drivers who own VW diesel cars registered between 2009 and 2015, but not the very latest Euro 6 models. Volkswagen explained that this is not a true recall, as there are no safety or security implications that could prevent owners from driving their vehicles in the meanwhile. The rectification should be quite short and simple correction of the software that cheated emission tests, so there will be no need to leave cars to mechanic’s garages for days. However VW already confirmed that hire cars will be offered for free to anyone who may need them.

Some analysts think that the long-term impact on VW car’s value is not necessarily negative. For example, after the recent Toyota/Lexus issue there was no significant decrease in these cars used values. Diesel engines are not just appreciated for their reduced emissions, but for their superior pulling power as well. Even if VW lawsuits will keep growing as users will ask for compensation, there’s no strict guarantee that these vehicles will be devalued, as their superior specs in terms of power and torque aren’t affected by the defeating devices.

The main question here is if this kind scandal is going to happen again. Recent analysis found that even some Porsche vehicles could be affected, and there’s a distinct chance that the VW emission scandal could expose further emission testing failures that could also affect these car’s prices. Not only Volkswagen’s image and reputation is a stake though, as the need of deeper and safer controls from the regulator authorities is felt across the entire Europe. New tests have been proposed to reveal emissions of pollutants in real driving conditions, to avoid lab cheats as it happened with the defeating device, and they had been expected to start in 2017  – Levin Papantonio is lead console for vw lawsuit victims.

Article By Claudio Butticè