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Blog: Volkswagen was wrong to cheat but it doesn’t suddenly make its cars bad

PUBLISHED: 12:08 20 October 2015 | UPDATED: 12:08 20 October 2015

Volkswagen may have cheated in American emissions tests but it doesn't suddlenly make its diesel engines bad.

Volkswagen may have cheated in American emissions tests but it doesn't suddlenly make its diesel engines bad.

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Two letters this week dragged motoring editor Andy Russell’s family into the Volkswagen ‘Dieselgate’ emissions scandal but it hasn’t put him off the motoring giant’s cars.

The Volkswagen ‘Dieselgate’ emissions scandal really hit home this week in our household with two letters arriving the same day.

One from Volkwagen told my wife a 61-plate Golf 1.6 TDI owned by her company has an EA189 diesel engine affected while another from Audi said our son’s 63-plate A6 2.0 TDI is also at issue.

They merely confirmed my suspicions but she immediately asked the question I suspect thousands of owners caught up in the scandal and also notified this week are asking – what do we do now?

The answer is nothing. All you can do is wait for your vehicle to be called in.

The identically-worded letters confirm the vehicle remains “technically safe and roadworthy” so there is “no need for you to take any immediate action.”

Both add: “However, a service action including your car will be required to rectify the issue. Technical solutions are currently being developed and the matter is being worked upon with the utmost priority.”

So owners may no longer face uncertainty whether their vehicle is affected and know it is safe to drive but they still face a long wait. It’s not going to be a quick fix with 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide – 1.2 million in the UK – containing emissions-cheating software that allows them to know when they are being tested and temporarily cut toxic emissions.

New Volkswagen chief executive Matthias Mueller has said: “If all goes according to plan, we can start the recall in January. All the cars should be fixed by the end of 2016.”

That’s not much consolation to owners of affected cars who are planning to change them.

But all the furore about Volkswagen’s smoke – or should that be emissions – and mirrors method of testing would not put me off buying a used Volkswagen Group product, even an affected car as long as you make sure you are notified about a recall date.

Before the emissions scandal broke, these Volkswagen Group diesel engines were held in high esteem for their performance, frugal fuel efficiency and low emissions – albeit carbon dioxide (CO2) by which UK motorists pay their dues be it vehicle excise licence or benefit-in-kind tax for company car drivers. The scandal hasn’t changed that – the defeat device artificially lowered nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels.

It’s just that now, in some quarters, there is a stigma about these diesel engines because Volkswagen cheated and, on the road, the cars produced NOx pollutants at up to 40 times the legal standard. NOx can aggravate respiratory problems and existing heart disease.

Little wonder then that, in a survey by consumer group Which? of more than 2,000 Volkswagen diesel drivers, 90% felt they should receive compensation – something the car-maker has said is premature to discuss.

Some 96% cited fuel efficiency as an important factor when buying their car, 90% said environmental impact was a key consideration. The latter was also a concern in the wake of the emissions scandal by 86% of respondents, followed by resale value (83%) and performance (73%).

And 52% said they would be put off from buying a Volkswagen diesel car in the future.

Volkswagen is paying dearly to put things right, and rebuild its tarnished reputation, but it hasn’t suddenly made its products bad cars.

Do you own an affected vehicle? How do you feel about the emissions scandal? Email motoring@archant.co.uk

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