No compensation from VW for affected owners in EU

Volkswagen UK MD Paul Willis has confirmed the company does not intend to provide compensation to EU owners whose vehicles have been fitted with a defeat device to lower NOx output during emissions testing procedures.

In a letter to the UK Transport Committee following his appearance before it last October, Willis said that although VW accepted a defeat device had been used in certain models in the US and had offered owners a goodwill gesture worth $1,000 (£700), it did not think it possible to make the same definitive legal determination in relation to software fitted to differently configured vehicles in the UK and EU.

He declined to go into detail, however, citing “the potential for this to be an issue that is examined in litigation, both in the English courts and elsewhere”.

Since the technical fixes the firm plans to apply are not intended to affect performance or fuel consumption and may provide benefits in terms of reduced NOx emissions, VW would prefer to spend its money on maximising uptake of the fixes “rather than offering a separate financial payment as a goodwill gesture at this stage”, he said.

Willis’s letter said: “VW was optimistic, based on the testing, that the performance and fuel economy will not be adversely affected.” But he admitted the firm would be “closely monitoring both metrics when implementation starts to ensure our anticipation matches the eventual results”.

Transport Committee chairman Louise Ellman said the committee had agreed to call Willis before it again to answer further questions on VW’s stance.

A spokeswoman for VW in the UK told that fixes for the NOx issue would begin in March. Customers could choose between bringing their vehicles in to be fixed or having the fixes carried out alongside a routine service visit, she added.

Firms fined for Safer Lorry Scheme breach

Two companies that flouted London’s Safer Lorry Scheme by using vehicles not fitted with safety equipment have been prosecuted and fined.

D&R Grab Hire and What a Load of Rubbish were stopped by officers and found to be in breach of the Safer Lorry Scheme traffic regulation order by having no Class VI mirrors or sideguards fitted to their vehicles.

The two companies appeared at City of London Magistrates on 9 December and were fined £500 and ordered to pay £235 court costs each.

Steve Burton, TfL director of enforcement and on-street operations, said: “These non-compliant operators represent a minority on our streets. We hope these prosecutions send out a message that we will continue to protect and secure our roads and push for the toughest penalties for those caught operating unlawfully.”

The Safer Lorry Scheme was launched in September 2015 and ensures that vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes entering the capital are fitted with sideguards and class V and VI mirrors. This is to protect cyclists from being dragged under the wheels in the event of a collision and to give the driver a better view of cyclists and pedestrians.

TfL said that since the start of the scheme, 5,610 vehicles have been targeted and stopped, with 269 of those identified as non-compliant.