A million Vauxhall drivers may be in line for compensation following emissions test cheating claims

More than a million Vauxhall drivers in the UK could be due compensation, following allegations the car manufacturer cheated emissions tests.

Campaign group Vauxhall Pay Up, which launched today, claims the car company installed software on 600,000 vehicles to cheap emissions tests.

Drivers who bought or leased Vauxhall cars between 2009 and 2019 could be due thousands of pounds each in compensation if they join the group claim and it is successful, the campaign group said this morning.

Edward Cardington, partner at Milberg London and lead lawyer for the Vauxhall Pay Up Campaign, said: “Motorists were promised a combination of low environmental impact and high driving performance that appears to have been impossible in real driving conditions. Put simply, clean Diesel looks like a myth and Vauxhall’s cars did not provide the performance drivers paid for.”

In a statement Vauxhall said: “Vauxhall Motors is not aware of any such claim and rejects any accusation of using illegal defeat devices. Our vehicles meet the applicable regulations.”

Similar to Volkswagen’s ‘Dieselgate’ scandal

Vauxhall Pay Up has cited evidence from regulators and academic studies in the UK and across Europe, and forensic analysis carried out by a global expert in the field, which suggested Vauxhall installed defeat devices in their cars.

These devices, which were integrated into the car’s engine management system, are specifically designed to improve environmental performance during ‘test’ conditions, which is not replicated in normal driving.

According to the campaign group, more than a million Vauxhall owners were potentially mis-sold or leased cars that were more polluting than the law allows, pumping harmful substances like nitrous oxide (NOx) into the atmosphere.

NOx is known to cause considerable health and economic damage in the UK and is currently the focus of government action. It has been identified as a ‘major component’ of urban air pollution and Public Health England estimates that it results in up to 36,000 premature deaths per year. Exposure to polluted urban air has been shown to materially increase the risk of serious illness and death from COVID 19.

Campaigners have said the cars were worth less than the drivers paid for them because they promised a combination of environmental impact and driving performance that could never be replicated under ‘real’ driving conditions. 

The cheat software Vauxhall is alleged to have used is similar to the ‘defeat’ code deployed by Volkswagen in the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal. Volkswagen has since paid out hundreds of millions of pounds in settlements in the US, Germany and Australia. Legal action in the UK is ongoing.

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