Volkswagen AG should provide similar compensation to European owners of vehicles affected by its emissions-cheating scandal as the German automaker is expected to pay its U.S. customers, European Union’s Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska told a German daily Sunday.
“Volkswagen should voluntarily pay European car owners compensation that is comparable with that which they will pay U.S. consumers,” Bienkowska told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
Volkswagen admitted to using software to cheat on emissions tests in 11 million cars worldwide in September 2015. The scandal-hit car maker is likely to pay about $10.3 billion in civil settlement to U.S. car owners, the largest in the auto industry’s history. Volkswagen would also offer to buy back cars and give additional compensation for owners of almost 500,000 diesel-run vehicles with two-liter engines that contain software capable of cheating government emissions tests, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing sources.
It would be biased of Volkswagen to treat European customers in a different manner only because of different legal system, Bienkowska said.
“Treating consumers in Europe differently than U.S. consumers is no way to win back trust,” she said.
Volkswagen officials in Europe have maintained they will fix vehicles to remove the cheating software. However, the company said it will not compensate European customers, arguing they did not suffer any loss.
Volkswagen will end up paying at least $5,100 to each American customer affected by the scandal. Cars affected by the emissions scandal include model year 2009 to 2015 Volkswagen Jettas, 2010 to 2015 Volkswagen Golfs, 2012 to 2015 Volkswagen Passats and Beetles, and 2010 to 2015 Audi A3s, all with diesel engines.
The civil settlement is not final yet and its terms may change, sources told the Associated Press. Owners of Volkswagen cars filed several lawsuits against the company after it admitted to cheating in emissions tests.
The company acknowledged creating sophisticated software that determined when the cars were tested by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and turned on the pollution controls. Once all wheels were in motion and the steering wheel was turned, the controls turned off.
Volkswagen, which was aware of the EPA’s testing routine, cheated on emissions tests for seven years before being caught by the International Council on Clean Transportation.