VW emissions scandal: recall details & $1,000 compensation for US owners

VW Emissions scandal update 2

North American VW owners with affected vehicles are to receive $1,000 (£662) as an initial form of compensation from the VW Group – but UK owners have received no offers yet. The deal includes a $500 Visa gift card, a $500 dealership card and free 24-hour roadside assistance for three years. Appealing to the 482,000 US VW owners is the first step from the Group to rectify all 11 million vehicles affected.

VW has set aside £4.7billion to cover global damages, but it may also face a further £2bn in costs as the mpg fuel economy and CO2 emissions ratings for 800,000 Group vehicles have also been found to been tampered by engineers. The majority of the cars affected are said to be diesel models, but a VW spokesman has now confirmed that specific petrol engines are also affected. The 1.4-litre ‘Cylinder on Demand’ petrol engine – found in many of the smaller Audi, VW, Skoda and SEAT models is the unit under suspicion.

The Group is working together with type approval agencies to resolve the situation, and has said it will pay for extra taxes incurred by owners of affected vehicles. 

VW sales down as crisis continues

Volkswagen’s UK car sales were down 9.84 per cent in October compared to the same period last year – suggesting that customers are losing faith in the brand following the emissions scandal.

Sales of sister brands Skoda and SEAT are also down – and the VW Group is reportedly attributing the fall to the damaging events of recent weeks. Audi sales appear to be unaffected but some brands unconnected to the VW emissions scandal including Ford and Vauxhall have also suffered sales dips. This is potentially a result of uncertainty among consumers in the wake of the emissions scandal revelations.

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Do VW’s 3.0-litre TDI engines have a ‘defeat device’?

This news of issues with mpg and CO2 ratings comes hot on the heels of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement that larger-engined VW Group cars may also contain the ‘defeat device’ software designed to cheat US emissions tests. It reported that some of the Group’s V6 TDI engines come with a software function that was not adequately described in the application process.

That means Porsche is now drawn into the VW emissions scandal for the first time alongside the VW Touareg SUV and Audi models including the A6, A7, A8, Q7 and Q5. VW has countered the claims saying that the AECD software present in their 3.0-litre TDI engines is not a defeat device.

VW said: “AECD software does not alter emissions levels, but it ensures after a cold start [of the engine] that the catalytic converters quickly reach their working temperature and emissions cleaning takes effect.”

The investigation is continuing but for the time being, versions of the VW Group’s 3.0-litre TDI diesel engine now join the EA 189 2.0-litre and 1.6-litre units on the list of engines officially implicated in the VW ‘dieselgate’ emissions scandal.

Scroll down for everything you need to know about the VW emissions scandal…

VW group cars

Three-point plan to recall UK’s dieselgate cars 

In the UK, the VW Group is looking to implement a three-stage plan to recall and repair all 1.2 million vehicles affected by the end of 2016. 

The Group is currently working with the German Motor Industry Federation (KBA) to approve a permanent fix to the emissions crisis – with the first round of recalls expected to start in the first quarter of 2016. 

The first vehicles to be recalled are the EA 189 2.0-litre TDIs, ideally in early 2016, with the rest of the 60 models from the five affected brands recalled and repaired by the end of 2016.  

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VW’s UK boss Paul Willis has confirmed the 1.2-litre and 2.0-litre diesel engines will require a software fix, while vehicles with a 1.6-litre diesel will also need new injectors fitted. This means around 400,000 UK cars would require mechanical changes. Speaking before the House of Commons’ select committee, Willis failed to answer questions relating to whether or not UK owners would be compensated but transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has since urged VW to consider compensation for affected motorists who face falling residual values on their cars. 

While UK vehicles may get by with software tweaks and injector swaps, vehicles in US and will likely need physical changes to the catalytic converters and the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) AdBlue urea injection systems to pass the strict North American emissions criteria.

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VW Group recall: numbers of UK cars affected

The VW Group has said that the following quantities of UK vehicles are set for a recall… 

  • • VW passenger cars – 508,276
  • • Audi – 393,450
  • • SEAT – 76,773
  • • Skoda – 131,569
  • • VW commercial vehicles – 79,838

Total VW Group cars set for UK recall: 1,189,906 

Check if your VW Group car is subject to the recall

The websites below let owners of VW Group cars check whether or not their models are fitted with the EA 189 engine and subject to the recall. All you need is your car’s VIN number which should be located at the bottom corner of the windscreen on the driver’s side or in the car’s service book. 

  • • VW recall website 
  • • Skoda recall website 
  • • SEAT recall website
  • • Audi recall website   

VW Group UK hq

What is the VW emissions scandal?

The dieselgate emissions scandal has snowballed since the VW Group was caught by US authorities for violating vehicle emissions standards. Volkswagen was found to have installed a ‘defeat device’ software algorithm on its cars to manipulate exhaust emissions tests making its cars appear cleaner than they are. 

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found four-cylinder diesel engines made by the German car giant were built with a software device that detects when the vehicle is undergoing emissions tests and activates full emissions control measures to produce results far better than those achieved in real-world driving.  

The net result is that cars pass strict US emissions limits under laboratory conditions, but when unplugged from the testing rigs, the EPA states that the diesel engines emit nitrogen oxides (NOx) up to 40 times the legal limit. The limits for N0x emissions in Europe are less stringent than the EPA’s standards and it remains unclear whether the cars found to be deliberately cheating US tests have broken the law in Europe, although VW admits that the same software is present. 

Message to VW customers on the ‘dieselgate’ scandal

VW Scandal: EA 189 engines affected

The engines in question are VW’s type EA 189 units, found in over 11 million diesel cars with 1.2, 1.6, and 2.0-litre capacities across the Volkswagen Group’s product range but no longer fitted to new models in Europe. 

VW says five million of its cars around the world use the EA 189 engine, while Audi and Skoda have said 3.3 million of their cars with so-called EU5 compliant engines come with the defeat device installed.  

There have also been rumours concerning other VW Group engines being dragged into the scandal but nothing has been confirmed as yet. Contrary to reports, VW Group has said that vehicles fitted with Euro 5 and Euro 6 EA288 engines are not affected by the emissions scandal.

The VW Group has informed US authorities that its 2016 diesel models do contain an ‘auxiliary emissions control device’ that may help cars produce lower emissions during an official test – this is different to the defeat device that was originally found to be cheating Environmental Protection Agency emissions tests, sparking the VW emissions scandal. 

The VW Group’s 3.0-litre TDI engines have also been implicated by the EPA but again, Volkswagen denies that defeat device software is present on these models. The 3.0 TDI engine is significant as it’s fitted to large VW and Audi models but would also drag Porsche models into the scandal for the first time. 

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VW emissions crisis timeline: how it happened


  • • 18/09/2015: The US environmental standards agency EPA files a Notices of Violation of the Clean Air Act to the Volkswagen Group stating cars sold between 2009 and 2015 included software to specifically pass EPA’s emissions tests.
  • • 22/09/2015: VW announces the engine in question is the type EA 189, found in 11 million vehicles worldwide and the company has set aside £4.7 billion to cover the costs of the scandal.
  • • 23/09/2015: Martin Winterkorn resigns as the CEO of the Volkswagen Group. VW confirm new EU6-compliant diesel engines not affected by the defeat device software.
  • • 25/09/2015: Matthias Muller appointed as the CEO of the Volkswagen Group. Over 2.8 million diesel cars affected in Germany alone. VW confirms five million of its own cars affected.
  • • 28/09/2015: Audi and Skoda admit 3.3 million of their diesel cars were built with the emissions cheat software. Winterkorn faces criminal prosecution in Germany for alleged fraud.
  • • 30/09/2015: VW Group announces that 1,189,906 UK cars will be recalled.
  • • 01/10/2015: 4,000 new cars with affected engines withdrawn from sale in the UK.
  • • 05/10/2015: VW Group brands start to launch websites where owners can check if their cars are affected by the recall
  • • 07/10/2015: Muller announces that the recall of affected models will begin early in 2016 and be completed by the end of that year with some cars needing a hardware fix. 
  • • 08/10/2015: The head of VW US, Michael Horn, admits he knew of the defeat device software as early as spring 2014. VW offices raided by German investigators.
  • • 09/10/2015: German transport ministry officials say that 3.6m European cars with the 1.6-litre EA 189 engine need a hardware fix. 
  • • 12/10/2015: Paul Willis, VW UK boss, tells MPs that all 1.6-litre EA 189 engines need new fuel injectors and outlines 3-point plan to fix all recalled cars.
  • • 13/10/2015: VW board announces new electric car focus and €1bn of cost cutting.
  • • 28/10/2015: VW report first quarterly loss in 15 years, while CEO Muller announces a five-point plan to turn things around.
  • • 29/10/2015: UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin says VW must consider compensating motorists with affected cars
  • • 02/11/2015: EPA reveals that models fitted with the 3.0-litre TDI diesel engine alsop have defeat device software but VW is quick to deny this.
  • • 03/11/2015: VW investigations reveal that mpg and CO2 levels are set too low on 800,000 petrol and diesel vehicles. 
  • • 05/11/2015: VW UK sales fell almost 10% in October, the brand announces that 1.4-litre petrol models have irregularities with CO2 ratings.
  • • 09/11/2015: VW engineers admit to rigging CO2 figures, blaming to pressure from former CEO Winterkorn. VW says it will pay for extra tax costs incurred by owners of affected vehicles. 
  • • 10/11/2015: US owners receive $1,000 compensation offer from VW. 

Click through to page two for the answers to your key questions regarding the VW emissions scandal…

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