EU may pressure Volkswagen to compensate dirty diesel owners

Germany says VW has to fix the cars but doesn't have to pay owners.

The European Union may pressure Volkswagen to pay diesel-vehicle owners throughout the 28 Western European nations for their troubles that were caused by the automaker's diesel-emissions scandal, Bloomberg News reports. The idea is to compensate the estimated 8.5 million impacted diesel-vehicle owners in Europe in a similar fashion to how the half-million US customers are being addressed. Unlike individual countries, the European Union doesn't have the legal power to impose fines on VW, but the European Commission is meeting in Brussels in September to discuss potential solutions. A Volkswagen spokesman declined to comment to Bloomberg.

The German Ministry of Transport said earlier this month that it wouldn't fine Volkswagen and would only hold the automaker to fixing the affected vehicles and return them in "legally compliant condition." That has caused some members of the EU as well as other consumer and regulatory entities to say that VW diesel-vehicle owners across Europe aren't being treated fairly. Following the German decision, Italian consumer group Altroconsumo performed real-world road tests on an Audi Q5 with Volkswagen's technical "fix" for the emissions-testing "defeat" software installed, and found that nitrogen-oxide (NOx) emissions from the vehicle were up 25 percent compared to the level before the fix. Because of that, the group brought up the issue of VW needing to compensate diesel-vehicle owners in Europe.

In the US, owners of affected VW diesels will get paid for their troubles. Last month, VW reached an agreement with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that stated that Volkswagen, amid other mandates, would compensate US vehicle owners as much as $10,000 each. The settlement is estimated to cost VW as much as $15 billion. Additionally, VW may also pay some Volkswagen dealerships in the US because of the decline in sales and other problems caused by the scandal.

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