The world’s biggest car maker is in the world’s biggest mess. Following the revelation that it has been cheating in its diesel emissions tests, Volkswagen has been riven by boardroom blood-letting, collapsing share prices and dire threats of legal action.
But people are still buying its cars. Despite the investigations that are now underway into how much NOx pollution their engines really put out, VWs are still in demand. So too are Audis, Seats and Skodas – even though between the four VW Group brands, a staggering nine million vehicles are affected.
So if you’re in the market for one of these cars, how afraid should you be? Here are the facts you need to know:
• The scandal started when US officials found software in some VW models which was designed to cheat in the country’s nitrous oxide emissions tests. It was able to tell when it was being tested, and switch the engine to run in a lower-emissions mode.
• The cars are unchanged in terms of driving. The ‘defeat device’, as it’s been dubbed, is only activated during emissions tests.
• Fuel economy and CO2 emissions figures are unaffected. The tests in question relate solely to particulate emissions, not greenhouse gases.
• VW says five million of its cars are affected. These include versions of the Golf, Beetle, Jetta and Passat built since 2009.
• In addition, 2.1 million Audis are affected, as well as 1.2 million Skodas and 700,000 Seats.
• Although the scandal originated in the US, it affects VWs worldwide. Of the 2.1 million Audis with the rogue software, more than half were sold in Western Europe.
Volkswagen has put a plan in place to recall some 11 million vehicles around the world for the issue to be addressed. If you own an affected vehicle, or buy one between now and then, you’ll be contacted by a dealer inviting you to bring it in.
In the meantime, the cars’ safety and fuel economy is unchanged. So you can keep on driving it as normal.
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