The Dieselgate scandal started with only one manufacturer group and four vehicle brands – the Volkswagen Group, Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda and SEAT. Seven years later, it has become the biggest scam the global automotive industry has ever seen. The diesel emissions scandal now has an extensive list of carmakers involved in the use of cheat devices.
How it started
In September 2015, the Volkswagen Group received a Notice of Violation from the California Air Resources Board and the EPA – Environmental Protection Agency. It contained details about their alleged discovery of defeat devices in Volkswagen and Audi diesel vehicles that were sold to US consumers.
Defeat devices are illegal and dangerous because they are designed to sense when a vehicle is in testing so emissions levels can be temporarily reduced to within the mandated limits of the World Health Organization (WHO). They hide real emissions levels so that vehicles can regulatory testing won’t find anything amiss with them, making them eligible to be sold and driven on UK roads.
However, once the vehicle is out of testing conditions and driven in real-world conditions, it releases massive volumes of nitrogen oxide or NOx, a group of highly reactive and dangerous gases. As such, the Volkswagen Group deceived customers by knowingly marketing and selling defeat device-equipped vehicles as emissions-compliant even if they were pollutants.
Authorities required the VW Group to recall all affected Audi and Volkswagen vehicles. The carmaker has also spent billions paying off fines, legal fees, and compensation.
Several years later, Mercedes-Benz was caught using defeat devices and US authorities also demanded that they recall affected vehicles and pay fines and compensation.
The diesel emissions scandal crossed over to Europe, the UK, and the rest of the world in the years that followed. Other carmakers were also implicated in the scam, including BMW, Peugeot, Porsche, and Renault.
British carmaker and Stellantis subsidiary Vauxhall is the latest addition to the list of manufacturers implicated in the Dieselgate scandal.
How the Vauxhall emissions fiasco started
In October 2018, Vauxhall’s sister company Opel was caught using defeat devices in their diesel vehicles. The KBA or German Federal Motor Transport Authority mandated the carmaker to recall around 100,000 affected Opel vehicles. According to the KBA, the carmaker allegedly defied EU regulatory requirements.
Vauxhall was later implicated in the fiasco, with authorities estimating that over 600,000 vehicles and more than one million drivers in the UK are affected. At present, approximately 500,000 of these vehicles have already been recalled.
Although the Vauxhall emissions scandal is still quite new, several affected models have already been identified, including the following diesel-powered vehicles:
- Zafira Tourer
Only models that were manufactured between the years 2008 and 2019 were installed with defeat devices. This includes new, used, leased, financed, and outright purchased vehicles.
Why are defeat devices dangerous?
Diesel vehicles that are equipped with defeat devices have been proven to release nitrogen oxides that are at least 40 times over the legal limits. This equates to excessive amounts of harmful pollutants getting into the atmosphere every year.
Once NOx is in the atmosphere, it becomes nitrogen dioxide (NO2 – one of its primary components along with nitric oxide or NO). NO2 catalyses the formation of smog and acid rain, as well as ground-level ozone. These can weaken and destroy ecosystems and wildlife.
Smog can also aggravate health conditions, such as emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma.
Reports and studies also show a link between NOx emissions and mental health and cognitive abilities. Exposure to nitrogen oxide can trigger episodes of anxiety and depression. It can also weaken cognitive function, which can lead to dementia.
Health issues that are triggered by NOx emissions vary according to the level of exposure. Low-level exposure can cause respiratory illnesses, asthma, and shortness of breath. Fluid can also get into the lungs.
High-level exposure to NOx emissions can lead to life-threatening health issues, such as:
- Chronic reduction of lung function
- Vocal cords spasm (or laryngospasm)
- Certain cancers
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Premature death
Every year, thousands of people (of any age) die prematurely because of exposure to air pollution. Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who lived in one of the most polluted areas of south London, died at the early age of nine after a severe asthma attack. She was in and out of the hospital and emergency room for months because of various respiratory issues. Ella walked to school almost every day and was exposed to high levels of NOx emissions. After an inquest, the coroner announced in December 2020 that air pollution was the primary reason for Ella’s death.
Carmakers like Vauxhall should be held responsible for all these impacts, as well as for the deliberate mis-selling of defeat device-equipped diesel vehicles.
How to make carmakers answer for their misleading ad campaigns
Affected car owners should be compensated for several reasons, including a possible market value decrease of their vehicles, higher maintenance costs and fuel bills, negatively affected vehicle performance, and exposure to NOx emissions. A Vauxhall emissions claim should be brought forward against the carmaker.
How should I start my diesel claim?
Before you can start your claims process, you should have your eligibility to claim verified first. Visit Emissions.co.uk to get all the information you need to know if you are qualified and start working on your diesel claim.