Volkswagen owners in the UK have been “let down” by the government and investigators in their response to the diesel emissions scandal, according to MPs.
More than 1m UK cars, and 11.5m vehicles worldwide, were fitted with software across the VW, Skoda, Seat, Porsche and Audi brands that artificially lowered emissions in laboratories but left nitrogen oxide emissions at much higher levels when on the road.
But more than nine months since the scandal broke, UK investigators are still considering whether to launch an official probe into the company.
MPs on Thursday said the Department for Transport, the Serious Fraud Office and the Competition and Markets Authority “have let down UK VW owners by letting slide the opportunity to investigate VW’s behaviour and, potentially, to take legal action”.
Mary Creagh MP, who chairs the committee, said: “There’s been a worrying inertia from ministers in tackling the VW scandal. They should ask the Vehicle Certification Agency to carry out tests to see whether, without the cheat devices, VW Group cars in the UK would have failed emissions tests.”
The SFO declined to comment beyond a previous statement that it was working with authorities across Europe to look into the case before deciding whether to launch a formal investigation.
The CMA said: “If we find evidence of a breach of consumer protection law we will assess the options for any appropriate action.”
The DfT said: “We take the unacceptable actions of VW extremely seriously,” adding that it had “called for a Europe-wide investigation following the VW issue”.
A report from the committee also criticises VW for its delay in fixing the affected cars in the UK — the company claims it is still waiting for its proposed remedies to be approved by regulators across Europe.
Of the 1.1m cars affected, VW has fixed just over 100,000 so far.
“VW owners in the UK continue to face uncertainty and delay while waiting for the cheat devices in their vehicles to be dealt with,” said the report. “This is unacceptable. We recommend that the government set out a recall timeline it expects VW to keep to, and the action it will take if VW does not.”
VW said: “Customers are our priority and every owner has been written to at least three times to keep them up to date. We are working hard to apply the approved technical measures to as many cars as swiftly as possible as soon as they are approved.”
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