MPs are putting pressure on Volkswagen (VW) after the company said it would compensate US customers but not European ones affected by the engine testing scandal.
After the US launched a lawsuit against VW with potential penalties of up to $22bn, the Department for Transport told Transport Network yesterday that legal action by the UK against VW was an option but the current priority was to ensure VW fixed the problem for consumers.
Paul Willis, VW Group UK’s managing director, told the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee yesterday that the situations in the US and Europe were very different.
How clean is your diesel? VW is still under pressure from MPs
‘We have a situation in the United States where at the moment it’s not clear whether we have a fix for the cars,’ he said.
Committee chairman Neil Parish MP said: ‘Is the situation that the Americans are being more robust? Is it the situation that the lobbying power of the German manufacturers along with the European manufacturers in the European Union … is so strong that you can actually have that altered to your satisfaction?’
Mr Willis said he could not answer that question because he was not familiar with the US situation.
At the committee’s inquiry into air pollution, he was also told by Angela Smith MP that people who suffered respiratory problems would be insulted by the motor industry’s talk about fuel efficiency and balance (between carbon dioxide and nitric oxide emissions).
Mr Willis refuted that respiratory ailments could be connected to Volkswagen, claiming that 'when you look at the mix of constituent elements that make up air pollution, cars in fact are very small’.
The Transport Select Committee also intends to question him soon, after receiving a letter in which he confirms that VW will offer goodwill payments to US but not UK customers.
The committee says the letter disputes that the ‘software installed in affected vehicles constitutes a defeat device in the EU, despite conceding that the same software constitutes a defeat device in the United States’.