People buy cars for many reasons: performance, prestige, economy or for its green credentials amongst others and of course individual cars have problems from time to time. VW have put itself into a very different position.
A lot is still to be found out about what has been happening, particularly so far as their European business is concerned, but even now it is clear litigation on a cosmic scale is soon to hit this massive car company. For those who have not been paying attention VW have included a device which means some of their diesel engine cars can alter their emissions depending on whether the car is being driven on a road or on a test bed called a rolling road. Somehow the device recognises that the car is being driven in a straight line without changing direction and it switches the emission output accordingly.
So far this has been identified in vehicles sold in the USA but it is rumoured the same has been occurring in vehicles sold in Europe. If so diesel vehicles here in the UK could be emitting far more noxious material than the advertised figures published by the government and which appear in car buying magazines.
The effect on diesel car owners in the UK could be very significant. Many people buy such cars because of the economic nature of the engines, coupled with lower vehicle tax, but if it is demonstrated that the official figures are wrong then trust in VW cars could reduce the potential residual value of the vehicle on the second-hand market, whether or not the particular vehicle doesn’t have the device installed After all, VW vehicles have always held their resale value fairly well which has added to their attraction for consumers but unless every car is tested and true figures published then there will be concerns for any potential second-hand purchaser.
For those who prioritise green issues the fact that emission figures were published and relied upon at the time of purchase could give rise to a claim in misrepresentation, particularly as it is becoming clear this was not an inadvertent set of circumstances but a deliberate ploy. To succeed a purchaser would have to show a representation was made, which proved to be incorrect and the purchaser relied upon that representation. No doubt other issues will become clearer over the coming weeks but it appears inevitable those affected will wish to take VW to task.
From a commercial point of view, shareholders in VW may also be considering matters carefully as the share value of the company has been decimated over the last week and this has all been caused by a deliberate act to mislead.
Much more will become public in the coming weeks but at the moment a company has gone from being Very Well respected to have a reputation that is Virtually Worthless.