German carmaker Volkswagen has spent over £26 billion in compensation, buyback schemes, civil settlements, and fines years after it was first implicated in the Dieselgate scandal. VW made the news again last week when they settled an ongoing dispute outside of court with 91,000 UK drivers. . This time around, the company is expected to pay £193 million.
Although VW executives and representatives have not admitted outright all the allegations against them in Wales and England, they did admit to using defeat devices in around 11 million of their diesel vehicles sold worldwide. The US Environmental Protection Agency was the first to discover the cheat equipment installed in thousands of Volkswagen diesel vehicles across the United States. About a year later, authorities implicated Mercedes-Benz in the same scandal and the diesel emissions scam eventually spread throughout the UK and the whole of Europe. Around 1.2 million vehicles were affected in the UK.
In a statement issued on behalf of the carmaker, VW apologised to their affected customers for mis-selling their EA189 vehicles, which were all equipped with cheat software. The statement also included a promise that VW will keep working on earning back the trust of their Wales and England customers.
VW’s chief legal officer Philip Haarmann referred to the settlement as a milestone in the Volkswagen Group’s commitment to moving beyond the Dieselgate scandal. VW also stated that this was the most prudent decision for them financially, rather than dragging out the court process.
Additionally, the settlement allowed car owners and their legal representatives to avoid going to the courts for an expensive, complex, stressful, and lengthy trial procedure. Without the settlement, the concerned parties would have had to go to the trial in January 2023.
The legal action against Volkswagen also included Skoda, SEAT, and Audi, which are all subsidiaries of the Volkswagen Group.
What is a defeat device?
The Dieselgate scandal started around seven years ago, but its effects continue to be felt globally to this day. Aside from involving several of the world’s most popular car manufacturers, such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, it also significantly contributed to the decades-long problem of air pollution. This is because of the defeat devices illegally installed in each of the affected vehicles.
A defeat device is equipment or software designed to detect when a diesel vehicle is being tested. Once it does, the device automatically suppresses emissions to a level that is within the legal limit set by the World Health Organization. However, once the vehicle is tested in real-world road scenarios, the vehicle’s emissions levels are revealed to be at least 40 times over the WHO and EU limits.
As such, VW, Mercedes, and the other carmakers sold were pollutants as they emitted volumes upon volumes of NOx or nitrogen oxides.
Defeat devices as pollutants
The gases that are emitted by vehicles, nitrogen oxides, are extremely dangerous for the environment as well as for human health. This is the major reason why authorities in countries affected by the diesel emissions scandal are encouraging car owners and their legal representatives to file a claim against the manufacturers who sold them the vehicles. NOx emissions are also the focus in many anti-pollution and anti-emissions campaigns and programs, such as the UK’s Clean Air Zone.
Nitrogen oxides are comprised of nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). On its own, NO does not have serious negative effects, but once it interacts with the more poisonous NO2, the entire story changes and they transform into toxic gases known as NOx.
NOx gases are the cause for the formation of smog, that yellowish or brownish haze that looms over large cities, particularly in the summer season. They also contribute to the creation of ground-level ozone and acid rain.
Constant exposure to NOx emissions can cause low blood pressure, diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, metabolic issues, certain respiratory ailments, and hematologic side effects. Other possible health issues include chronically reduced lung function, breathing problems, eye irritation, corroded teeth, headaches, and loss of appetite.
In severe cases, NOx emissions can worsen existing health conditions such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, and long-term damage to the respiratory system. Constant exposure to excess levels of NOx emissions can lead to premature death. Such was the case of Ella Kissi-Debrah, a nine-year-old who died because of an air pollution-related asthma attack. The young girl was exposed to high amounts of nitrogen oxides in the area she regularly took when walking to school.
NOx may also have effects on a person’s mental health, triggering anxiety and depression.
Diesel emission claims
What can you do to help?
Filing an emission claim against the manufacturer that sold you the vehicle is the best contribution you can give to the anti-air pollution campaign. A compensation claim is what you can receive as a monetary reward for what your manufacturer “stole” from you when they misled you into buying their vehicle. It won’t be an easy process but you can always hire a panel of emissions solicitors to help you out.
Emissions claims solicitors, such as the panel at ClaimExperts.co.uk, are professionally trained, highly experienced, and regulated. They will stay with you every step of the way, maximising the probability of you winning the case. Visit their website and get in touch with them now.