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Volkswagen ready to take unhappy customers to court

More than 3500 UK buyers have complained about Volkswagen's dieseldate fixes, but they'll have to fight for compensation in court

Words ByDarren Moss

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European owners who aren't happy with Volkswagen's diesel engine fixes will have to fight their case for compensation in court, company boss Matthias MΓΌller has said.

Volkswagen is currently in the process of fixing the 1.2 million UK cars affected by the dieselgate emissions cheating scandal, which engulfed the German car maker in September of 2015. Speaking in February, Volkswagen's UK boss, Paul Willis, said that 20,000 UK cars were being fixed every week. Even at that pace, though, the company doesn't expect to have fixed every car until this autumn.

The engine fixes, all of which have been independently approved in Germany, are certified as not adversely affecting the performance, emissions and fuel economy of the cars. Any owner who believes otherwise, said MΓΌller, will face an 'intense discussion' with Volkswagen in court. "If people think they know better then let them try and prove it," he told journalists at a press conference today, "but I have to say we are relaxed about it."

The Department for Transport (DfT) recently revealed it had received 3500 complaints about negative changes to cars following Volkswagen's fixes. Common complaints include increased engine noise and reduced fuel economy. Willis told MPs that the company has paid Β£1.1 million to the DfT to cover the costs of retesting the fuel economy of its vehicles following the scandal.

As well as emissions fixes, Volkswagen says it has closely monitored the resale values of its affected cars. It says that no owners have suffered a material loss as a result of the scandal - in other words, an affected car which has been fixed will still have the same value on the used car market.

"We have done thousands of measurements in conjunction with the KBA [Germany's regulatory body], which show that our solutions do not affect cars negatively in any way," said MΓΌller.

Volkswagen to become 'environmental leader'

Understandably, Volkswagen is keen to distance itself from the dieselgate saga, and MΓΌller has pledged that the company will become "a role model in environmental protection, safety and integrity" in the future. As part of that promise, Volkswagen plans to invest heavily in battery technology, and expects to have 30 battery-electric models on sale by 2025.

Despite the scandal, Volkswagen Group remains the world's largest car maker, with 10.3 million vehicles sold worldwide in 2016.

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