VW Pressed by EU to Find Ways to Compensate European Consumers

  • EU Commissioner Bienkowska meets with CEO Mueller in Brussels
  • VW vows to share information on emission cheat without delay

The European Commission kept pressure on Volkswagen AG to share all information about the automaker’s diesel emissions-tests cheating and to find ways to compensate European consumers who bought cars with rigged engines.

EU Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska had a “brief, open discussion” with VW Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller on Thursday in Brussels, according to the commission. The German company admitted last September that it had deceived consumers and regulators since 2009 in a scandal involving 11 million vehicles worldwide.

A recall for most of the vehicles has been approved in Europe. Earlier this week, Mueller confirmed at a meeting with supervisory-board leaders that he believes the company breached legal codes and overstepped ethical boundaries when it cheated on diesel emissions.

“Commissioner Bienkowska invited the group once again to reflect on adequate ways to compensate consumers,” the commission said. “She repeated her clear view that EU consumers should be treated in the same way as U.S. customers.”

Emissions Scandal

In the U.S., where regulators exposed the emissions scandal, Volkswagen hasn’t been able to get regulatory approval for a fix for cars using deceptive software to subvert emissions standards. In a case consolidating more than 500 consumer lawsuits against the automaker, the car owners are seeking returns of premiums paid for the vehicles, compensation for diminished value and possible return of purchase price, minus depreciation.

In an out-of-court program in the U.S., the carmaker offered Volkswagen owners $1,000 in compensation as a good-will gesture.

Mueller committed on Thursday to sharing without delay all technical information that the EU regulator needs to assess if the planned corrective measures by VW are effective. The automaker is still looking into how the deception was originated and maintained for so many years.

The company said on Tuesday that an investigation being run by U.S. law firm Jones Day has made significant strides in recent weeks, and a report is planned for the carmaker’s shareholder meeting in April. As part of an effort to show such deceit can’t happen again, VW’s namesake brand announced plans on Wednesday to reorganize vehicle development. The new organization makes teams responsible for vehicle types from concept through end of production.

The commission said it must be able to fully evaluate the environmental and health impact of the cheat, in which emissions controls came on only during testing. Those controls shut off while the diesel-engine car was on the road, producing excessive nitrogen oxide emissions.

VW is also under pressure from the commission over another emissions scandal after it revealed in November that carbon-dioxide discharges were understated. Sharing full details about those irregularities is an equally urgent matter, Bienkowska told Mueller.

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