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VW: no compensation for European customers over rigged cars

VW branch in Duesseldorf Image copyright Getty Images

Volkswagen has "no plans" to compensate customers in Europe whose diesel cars were rigged to cheat emissions tests.

VW has set aside £4.8bn to cover recall costs, but had not until now said there would be no compensation.

VW has been compensating drivers in the US, arguing that the market circumstances were different.

VW drivers in the UK say the emissions scandal has hit the re-sale value of their cars, with one telling the BBC's You & Yours programme he is "dismayed".

It was discovered in the US that the German carmaker's diesel cars had so-called "defeat devices" that could cheat laboratory emissions tests.

Since then, VW has announced that millions of cars are being recalled, and regulators across the world have begun investigations.

In a statement to Radio 4's You & Yours, VW said it was committed to putting right any cars affected, but that the company was "not planning any further financial payouts".

This is despite VW customers in the US being promised $500 (£330) and a further $500 in credit vouchers.

More than one million UK cars are thought to be fitted with the computer "cheat chips", which reduced levels of NOx emissions during testing.

The chair of the UK's Transport Select Committee, Louise Ellman, told You & Yours that VW should carefully consider its next step.

"I think that VW are compounding their misdemeanours. I think they think they can get away with it, but that simply will not happen," she said.

'Totally unfair'

VW is recalling about 11 million cars worldwide, with 8.5 million of them in Europe. In the US, 482,000 diesel cars are thought to have been fitted with the "cheat" technology.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The rigged vehicles' engines actually emitted nitrogen oxide pollutants up to 40 times above what is allowed in the US

In its statement, VW said: "We are putting together an individual package of measures for each market designed to achieve high customer satisfaction in what is currently an unsatisfactory situation for customers."

But UK customers of the German manufacturer hoping for a payout will be left frustrated.

Chris Hoyland, the owner of a VW Tiguan 2L diesel, said the value of his car had dropped from £20,600 to £17,500 since the emissions scandal broke.

"I had only driven 1,000 miles during that period so I'm dismayed my vehicle had depreciated so much. I think to treat European and UK drivers differently from those in America is just totally unfair."

VW has suggested to the BBC that it is offering US customers compensation because the US is seen as a key market that they would like to develop.

The thinking is that US consumers bought a VW car specifically advertised as a "clean diesel". They were investing in a niche technology where diesel fuel costs more than petrol, and so financial compensation would be appropriate.

But Ms Ellman is not convinced. "The secretary of state has the power impose unlimited penalties," she said. "I think they should take a realistic view and not try and discriminate on how they treat customers in the States and how they do here."

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