Volkswagen has admitted that it has received nearly 30,000 complaints about performance and economy drops on cars that have been ‘fixed’ as part of the Dieselgate scandal.
The company’s former UK managing director Paul Willis told parliament’s Transport Committee that 28,617 owners had complained of an ‘apparent issue’ with their cars following a software update designed to disable a ‘defeat device’.
Minority of owners
According to Willis, the number of complaints jumped by 70 per cent in 2018 compared with 2017. However, he insisted that the number of complaints was very small in relation to the number of cars that have had the fix applied and VW had dismissed the vast majority of the claims.
In a letter to the committee’s chair, he said that more than 870,000 vehicles had undergone the work and of the 28,600 only 100 complaints remained active. He suggested that owners were being prompted to complain by media coverage of the scandal and campaign groups seeking to take legal action against VW.
He also suggested that alleged issues had to be taken in the context of ‘wear and tear’ related to an aging vehicle population.
Certain VW Group engines were found to feature a setting that significantly reduced NOx emissions during lab testing. Picture: Shutterstock
He said: ‘It is important to bear in mind that the technical measures have been implemented in nearly 7.5 million vehicles across Europe and … over 870,000 vehicles in the UK.
‘The vast majority of customers have been satisfied and have reported no problems with the technical measures whatsoever.’
In the letter he also admitted that VW had made payouts to some customers to ‘increase customer satisfaction’ but refused to give details due to commercial sensitivity.
The software fix applies to the VW Group’s EA189 diesel engine in 1.2-litre, 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre form built from 2007 to 2015. American testers found that the engines featured a software device which detected when a car was undergoing laboratory testing and switched to an engine management mode that reduced NOx emissions.
V6 and V8 diesels from the group have also been affected by what Willis called a ‘wholly unrelated’ issue. According to his letter, around 850,000 cars worldwide and 55,000 in the UK are eligible for a software update to reduce their real-world emissions.