Volkswagen Group launches a package of measures further to the outcome of the Diesel summit

07 August 2017

Volkswagen Group launches a package of measures further to the outcome of the Diesel summit

7 August 2017

Volkswagen Group (VW) has released more details on the ‘package of measures’ it is launching further to the news announced during the diesel summit on 2 August that more than five million diesel vehicles will receive a software update, including a total of 3.8 million VW vehicles, and subsequent news that trade-in rebates will be offered for those diesel cars that cannot receive the update. 

In a release issued on Friday 4 August, the company stated: ‘Together with the German Federal, state and municipal governments and German automakers, the Volkswagen Group will make a decisive contribution to a swift and sustained reduction in NOx emissions. A key element of this package is the trade-in incentive for Euro 1 - Euro 4 diesel models which will apply across all brands in the Group. In addition, the software update for Euro 5 and some Euro 6 diesel vehicles will be available throughout Europe and not just in Germany.‘ 

‘With the incentive to trade in their vehicles we are giving our customers strong motivation to switch to a modern, more environmentally compatible vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine or an alternative drivetrain technology.’ CEO Matthias Müller said. ‘This incentive can be implemented quickly and will have a swift, quantifiable and sustained effect on significantly reducing NOx emissions and significantly improving air quality.’ 

Unlike BMW for example, which already clarified in a statement on 2 August that ‘owners of diesel vehicles that meet Euro 4 standards or less will be granted an environment bonus of up to €2,000 (amount dependent on model bought) when they trade in their vehicle and purchase a new BMW or MINI,’ VW has not yet provided details of the value of the trade-in incentive and when it will be introduced. Customers and dealers alike are therefore eagerly awaiting an update. 

The VW statement goes on to say that: ‘The incentive is currently being prepared by the Group's Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Audi, SEAT, ŠKODA, Porsche and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brands and will be on offer soon. In Germany, the Volkswagen Group will install a software update on approx. four million Euro 5 and some Euro 6 diesel vehicles in total as agreed in order to reduce NOx emission levels. This figure also includes the approx. 2.5 million vehicles already being recalled, of which more than 70% have already been refitted. In addition, the Volkswagen Group will be offering the software update to its diesel customers throughout Europe. As a result, NOx emissions from Euro 5 and some Euro 6 diesel vehicles currently on the market can be reduced by an average 25 to 30%.’  

However, the German environmental aid group DUH will undoubtedly continue to refute this claim, having already argued in a statement issued two days earlier that the planned 25-30% reduction in NOx emissions from the software updates will actually only result in reductions of maximum 2-3% and that they are therefore still pursuing diesel driving bans in 16 cities through the courts. 

Finally, the VW statement reveals: ‘Furthermore, the Volkswagen Group will contribute to the €500 million sustainable mobility fund for cities.’ The auto industry and the Federal government will each contribute €250 million. The Volkswagen Group's contribution to the fund will be proportionate to its market share in Germany and will therefore represent a substantial amount. 

In other news, VW and the German Government are facing fresh criticism for having too close a relationship. The Bild am Sonntag newspaper has reported in an article that Stephan Weil, the prime minister of the Germany state of Lower Saxony, which owns a fifth of Volkswagen Group's voting rights, rewrote and watered down’ a speech to the state legislature about the diesel scandal further to feedback from VW itself. 

VW and the Government are also facing a new legal challenge, with German magazine Der Spiegel reporting that the law firm Stoll & Sauer, which represents 35,000 VW diesel drivers, has filed a case against the Federal Ministry of Transport and the KBA Motor Vehicle Authority. According to Der Spiegel, the law firm accuses the Ministry of Transportation of not imposing sanctions against car manufacturers as a result of the emissions scandal, in accordance with EU law. The KBA is accused of having readily approved diesel vehicles. For years the authorities noticed no manipulations at all,Ralf Stoll wrote in a submission, adding that ‘Hints were ignored and so the federal government is guilty of the diesel scandal. The law firm has submitted the liability for the owner of a VW Golf Diesel and if the court decides in favour, the owner will be compensated by the Government, which could open the floodgates for many more VW diesel owners to follow suit. 

Finally, in another twist, the legality of the software updates that affected diesel cars will receive has been challenged. The Irish Times reports that ‘Software fixes to lower harmful emissions from diesel car engines are likely to contravene European Union law, according to an Irish lawyer involved in the ongoing VW emissions scandal. He says the only legal solution currently available is to ban the affected cars from the roads.’

Photograph courtesy of Volkswagen Group