VOLKSWAGEN has blamed its customers after failing to fix almost 400,000 diesel cars fitted with software designed to cheat emissions tests.
The company recalled 1.2 million VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda cars and vans in Britain after the “dieselgate” scandal was exposed two years ago by US regulators.
It promised to fit new software that would reduce their emissions but recently admitted that almost a third of the vehicles had still not been fixed.
The company said that some customers had chosen not to have their cars fixed despite receiving at least two requests to take their vehicle to a dealer for a software upgrade.
Volkswagen claims that the upgrade will reduce emissions of toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2) by up to 30 per cent. However, many drivers are believed to be reluctant to have the upgrade after reports that it harms car performance, with some going suddenly “limp” in the road.
BBC One’s Watchdog reported in July that some motorists experienced a drop in performance from their vehicles after they were fixed, although Volkswagen insisted that “the overwhelming majority of our customers have been fully satisfied”.
Volkswagen said that 810,000 vehicles had been fixed by the end of last week and 374,000 had yet to have the upgrade.
Paul Willis, the managing director of Volkswagen UK, told the Commons transport select committee in February that he hoped the programme to fix the cars would be complete by autumn.
A Volkswagen spokesman said yesterday: “The service action remains voluntary and we are aware that some customers have actively declined the implementation of the technical measures.”
Mary Creagh, Labour chairwoman of the Commons environmental audit committee, said: “It is essential the vehicles on Britain’s roads adhere to emissions regulations, particularly as the country is faced with dangerous levels of pollution.”
Mel Evans, Greenpeace’s clean air campaigner, said: “Time and again VW has dodged its responsibility. It’s paid no fines or faced criminal charges in the UK as it has in the US. Now it won’t even meet its own timeline for a product recall of its dodgy diesels, which is the only redress on offer to the public here.”
The government is facing a new legal challenge over its plans for reducing NO2 pollution, which largely comes from diesel vehicles. ClientEarth, which has won two previous court cases against ministers on the issue, said the latest government plans still fell short of what was legally required.
This article first appeared in The Times