VW rejects Euro commissioner’s demand for owner compensation

Volkswagen today rejected a European commissioner’s demand that the automaker provide European diesel vehicle owners compensation similar to that provided in the U.S.

Volkswagen today ruled out any compensation plan for European diesel owners, telling a European commissioner that the situations in the United States and Europe were different. Last week, the European Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska sent a list of demands to Matthias Mueller, chief of the automaker. Included in that list was a request for a European compensation program similar to one implemented in the U.S. A meeting between Mueller and Bienkowska followed the letter.

Today, according to a Reuters report, the automaker rejected the commissioner’s request. In a statement, the automaker said there were no grounds to copy the American compensation program to Europe. Volkswagen has implemented a compensation program for owners of its TDI diesel models in the U.S. Under the program, the automaker has promised drivers $1,000 in goodwill compensation because their vehicles felt the impact of the Dieselgate emissions scandal.

VW says the compensation package is to help assuage owner pique because of the scandal and because there is no fix for affected vehicles. Customers will have to wait longer for a solution than elsewhere. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board rejected a fix proposed by the automaker.

“We are concentrating in Europe on the repair and service process,” VW said in its statement. “The situation in the U.S.A. and Canada is not automatically comparable with other markets in the world. Therefore, this action [compensation] cannot simply be rolled out in other markets.”

In a separate statement, the European Commission said that Bienkowska sought “adequate ways to compensate consumers … She repeated her clear view that EU consumers should be treated in the same way as U.S. customers … Mueller agreed to come back to the commissioner on the points discussed.”

Volkswagen in September admitted to the Dieselgate scandal where said it had cheated U.S. environmental tests by using a software-based “defeat switch.” The software watched for telltales of a test and if it detected them, set the emission system to tighter standards so the vehicle would pass the test. When the test ended, the emission system was reset to standard for better performance and mileage. In the U.S., about 600,000 VW and Audi vehicles felt the impact of the scam. Worldwide 11 million vehicles were impacted.