Treatment of Australian VW customers highlights need for real-world independent emissions testing


The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) today renewed its call for Volkswagen Group (VW) to explain why Australian customers are less important than those in the USA, and for the Australian Government to commit to real-world emissions testing of new vehicles.

Reports that VW has publicly stated it has no intention of providing compensation to Australian VW owners, despite agreeing to pay customers in the USA an average of USD5,000, is a slap in the face to Australian consumers. 

AAA Chief Executive Michael Bradley said reports in the media claiming VW had not broken any laws were pre-empting the findings of an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

“VW Australia reportedly claims no payment is due to Australian consumers because the company broke no laws. The ACCC stated in October last year that using defeat devices is specifically prohibited under the Australian Design Rules. It also indicated it would not hesitate to take action if consumers were exposed to false, misleading or deceptive representations,” Mr Bradley said.

“Regardless of the outcome of the ACCC’s investigation, VW has let down the Australian owners of around 90,000 vehicles. These Australians have faced almost a year of uncertainty in relation to the environmental performance, fuel usage and resale value of their vehicles.”

Mr Bradley said although VW may claim it does not owe Australian consumers compensation, in September 2015 its then global CEO Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, issued a statement[i] that said: “We at Volkswagen will do everything that must be done in order to re-establish the trust that so many people have placed in us, and we will do everything necessary in order to reverse the damage this has caused.”

“The AAA commends the sentiment of this statement, but again asks that Volkswagen treat the millions of affected customers equally, irrespective of the country in which they live,” Mr Bradley said.

Amid growing concerns regarding the accuracy and usefulness of laboratory emissions testing in the wake of the VW scandal, the AAA is investing $500,000 to conduct an on-road emissions testing pilot of around 30 vehicles on the Australian market.  The AAA believes the Australian Government should take on the role of administering an on-going real-world emissions testing program.

The AAA emissions testing pilot of the first 10 vehicles is due to conclude by the end of August. Test results for these vehicles will be available later in 2016. The AAA also plans to test a sample of affected Volkswagen Group diesel vehicles before and after remediation by the company.

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