Wednesday 21 February 2018

VW expected to recall more than 100,000 Irish cars due to emissions

Technicians conduct an emissions test on an Audi vehicle at the National Institute of Environmental Research Transport Institute in South Korea as part of the worldwide investigation into VW engines
Technicians conduct an emissions test on an Audi vehicle at the National Institute of Environmental Research Transport Institute in South Korea as part of the worldwide investigation into VW engines
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

Up to 110,000 motorists here will have to bring their cars to dealerships for 're-tuning' as part of the Volkswagen emissions scandal recall.

Almost 80,000 drivers of Volkswagens, Audis, Skodas, SEATs and vans bought in Ireland will be contacted so VW can "correct the emissions characteristics" of its cars.

And as many as 30,000 owners of used imports are affected - as highlighted yesterday by the Irish Independent. VW is not certain of the final number of imports yet, but says it could reach 30,000. More than 66,000 VW-brand models were imported between 2009 and 2014.

The Irish-bought brands and numbers involved are: Volkswagen passenger cars - 34,387; Audi - 16,485; SEAT - 4,365; Skoda - 16,004, Volkswagen commercial vehicles - 8,107, making a grand total of 79,348.

Precise details on the individual models involved are still being worked on.

Those affected abroad include versions of the VW Golf, Passat, Jetta, Audi A1, 3, 4, A5 and A7, but a spokesman here insisted that VW was establishing exactly which models are affected in Ireland.

The company has said it will write to owners shortly to arrange to have the work carried out on the vehicles.

The recall, which globally affects 11 million vehicles, will require work on the software, and possibly the hardware, in cars with EA 189 engines.

These have been found in the US to be capable of recognising when they are being tested, whereupon they switch to burning fuel more cleanly and reducing emissions of NOx toxins.

As part of the recall, VIN (vehicle identification number) details of affected vehicles will be released to retailers.

Also being established is an international "online self-serve process", based on those VIN numbers, for owners to check if their vehicle is affected.

In Ireland, a website for all brands based on registration numbers is planned to cover domestic sales and used imports. Owners will be contacted with details of a "process" to get their vehicles "corrected" in the near future, VW said.

Meantime, it has emphasised that all vehicles are technically safe and roadworthy.

Technical solutions and measures to sort out the problems will be presented by the VW Group globally to the relevant authorities later this month.

And Volkswagen Ireland managing director Lars Himmer is to meet Environment Minister Alan Kelly to discuss the controversy after Mr Himmer responded immediately to a request for an "urgent" meeting.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said he and Mr Kelly would meet Volkswagen bosses to tell them that their company's behaviour had been "unacceptable".

Mr Donohoe said he wanted to hear from the firm directly about its plans to honour the commitments to Irish owners.

The Irish details come almost two weeks after the scandal first broke in the US, when researchers discovered the 'cheat device' in software was deceiving testers into thinking the cars were much greener than they were.

It was subsequently discovered that some of the 482,000 US cars affected had NOx emissions up to 35 times greater than the company had claimed.

However, the recall is dwarfed by the 53 million vehicles affected by the Takata airbag saga this year.

The five steps for an Irish recall

1. The automaker gets the unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of every car.

2. These are sent to the Department of Transport.

3. The numbers are forwarded to the National Vehicle and Driver File (NVDF) database in Shannon.

4. Shannon can then give the automaker the names and addresses of current owners.

5. Then the automaker can begin contacting the owners.


What happens next?

The Volkswagen Group here will be in touch with owners and is setting up a website to help keep them up to date. But it has yet to give full details of exactly when and how Operation Retune will roll out.

When can I expect a letter?

Realistically, within a few weeks. New cars with the latest Euro 6 engines are not affected.

When will remedial work begin?

It should start within six weeks, barring unforeseen hitches. This is a big recall, so it will take time.

What will be done to my car?

Engines will be ‘re-tuned’.  VW is not specific as it has to get official clearance for its plan. Vehicles will require a software upgrade and possibly hardware too.

What will it cost me?

Nothing. VW has set aside €6.2bn to deal with the crisis.

Is my car safe to drive?

Volkswagen says all affected vehicles are safe and roadworthy.

Will it affect the value of my car?

Reports suggest there has been a slight decline in values in the UK but that is only to be expected in the short term. A well-handled recall will go a long way to restoring confidence.

What if I’m not happy after the re-tune?

You are always entitled to contact a lawyer or get specific advice and support from the Consumers Association.

What if I don’t bother?

You can’t be forced. But it might affect the re-sale value of your car if the potential buyer asks or the dealer checks.

Irish Independent

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