The Volkswagen Group continues to hog the spotlight years after the Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal first broke. VW was the first carmaker to have been linked to the scam, the biggest and most controversial one to happen in the global automobile industry.
In May last year, the German carmaker reached a settlement in a group litigation involving around 91,000 England and Wales drivers. Volkswagen agreed to pay the car owners a total of around £193 million and apologised to their customers. The carmaker promised to work on gaining back the trust of the drivers.
The settlement, heard in a High Court, was for Volkswagen’s use of illegal defeat devices, which they installed in their diesel vehicles so they could cheat emissions testing. Owners of VW, Audi, Škoda, and Seat vehicles claimed that the carmaker lied to and misled them into believing that the vehicles they purchased were emissions-compliant and safe to drive on UK roads. More particularly, VW’s EA189 diesel vehicles had two-mode software in them.
Agreeing to the settlement was the best option for Volkswagen as they do not have to go through an expensive, complex, and lengthy trial. The claim would have gone to court sometime this month (January 2023), and it would have been the biggest group litigation in the UK.
The total compensation will be distributed to each of the claimants according to the proportions that their solicitors agreed upon. Also to be considered in the allocation are the legal expenses of each driver.
Apart from their expenses for the settlement, the Volkswagen Group has already spent around £26 billion as compensation for fines, fees, and other settlement agreements right after authorities caught them violating emissions regulations back in 2015.
While car owners in the US have already been compensated for damages and losses due to the use of illegal defeat devices, many in the UK have yet to claim theirs, which is how the group litigation came to light.
The Dieselgate scandal in detail
The California Air Resources Board, along with the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA, sent the Volkswagen Group a notice of violation after they allegedly found defeat devices in Audi and VW diesel vehicles that were sold in the US. VW allegedly used the devices to manipulate emissions during regulatory tests.
Cheat software or a defeat device can detect when a vehicle is brought into the lab for regulatory emissions testing. Once this happens, the device temporarily brings down emissions levels to within the limits set by the World Health Organization. To authorities, the vehicle appears environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient. However, this is true only while the vehicle is in testing conditions.
As soon as the vehicle is driven outside of laboratory conditions, it emits voluminous amounts of nitrogen oxide or NOx, a group of gases with negative effects on human health. Thus, instead of helping improve air quality, defeat device-equipped vehicles are heavy pollutants.
Volkswagen lied to their customers by selling defeat device-equipped diesel vehicles that significantly contributed to excessive amounts of air pollution as clean and environmentally safe.
A few years later, authorities also discovered defeat devices in Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Although parent company Daimler denied the allegations, the carmaker has recalled thousands of vehicles and spent billions on payoffs, just like Volkswagen.
Other carmakers potentially involved in the diesel emissions scandal include BMW, Renault, Nissan, and Peugeot. Vauxhall, a UK-based vehicle manufacturer, is one of the newest additions to the list of defeat device users. Although the Vauxhall emissions scandal is still in its infancy, thousands of affected car owners have already been working with solicitors for their emission compensation. Now that Volkswagen has settled with affected UK drivers, law firms are hoping that the Vauxhall emissions claim would be next in line.
Why a diesel emission claim is essential
Diesel emissions are highly dangerous and can have life-threatening impacts, particularly NOx or nitrogen oxide emissions.
NOx has nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO) as primary components and they contribute to the formation of smog and acid rain, pollutants that can cause asthma and other respiratory issues such as bronchitis and emphysema. Nitrogen oxide also produces a pollutant known as ground-level ozone, which can easily weaken and damage vegetation, such as plants and crops.
Aside from the environmental impacts, exposure to NOx emissions also endangers human life because of various health impacts:
- Dementia caused by weakened cognitive skills
- Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues
- Breathing problems
- Fluid can form in and fill the lungs
- Respiratory diseases
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Premature death
Cases involving early deaths linked to air pollution have been piling up over the years. This makes toxic air more dangerous than HIV and AIDS, cigarette smoking, and drugs and alcohol.
These impacts, along with the carmakers’ deceitful actions, are more than enough reasons to file a diesel claim.
How should I file my diesel claim?
A diesel emissions claim can take time if you do not know the right process. So, it is important to work with emissions experts to ensure efficiency and proper procedure. Before doing so, however, you have to first verify if you are qualified to bring a claim against your carmaker. Visit ClaimExperts.co.uk to do this and they’ll provide you with all the information you need to move forward with your claim.