diesel engine

Lawsuit could reap £4,000 for UK VW owners; Auto execs predict diesel’s downfall

UK car industry executives are losing interest in diesel technology in favour of electric vehicles according to figures from KPMG’s annual global automotive executive survey.

Meanwhile, thousands of UK motorists have joined a lawsuit against Volkswagen (VW) in the wake of the emissions scandal, which could cost the car manufacturer billions of pounds

The KPMG survey showed that 93 per cent of executives said they planned to invest heavily in battery technology for electric vehicles over the next five years, while 62 per cent felt that diesel is losing its importance for manufacturers. Electric vehicles are also expected to dominate the marketplace by 2025.

John Leech, of KPMG, said: “Improvements in the cost and range of battery technology, coupled with growing concern over the emission of both carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides from diesel engines, means that almost the whole automotive industry believes that the mass adoption of electric cars will happen during the next decade.”

Senior executives working for vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, dealers, financial and mobility service providers plus car users took part in the survey.

Some 74 per cent of executives thought more than half of car owners today would not want to own a vehicle.

Researchers believe there will be fewer cars and therefore less money to be made from building vehicles in the future as people may opt to use, rent or pay for a car service rather than to own a car.

This was not feared as a looming problem because 85 per cent of executives were convinced their company might make more money by providing new digital services than by selling cars alone.

“Carmakers plan to sell a myriad of new digital services to vehicle users,” Leech said. “Today car makers already make substantial profits from the sale of consumer finance and annual vehicle insurance but this will grow in the future as innovative services such as remote vehicle monitoring and the integration of the car as a focal point in people’s ever more connected lifestyles are demanded by consumers.”

This gloomy outlook for the future of diesel comes as owners and previous owners of VW vehicles seek £3,000 to £4,000 from the automaker following revelations in 2015 that it was using “cheat devices” to obfuscate the emissions its cars were producing.

Volkswagen admitted in September 2015 that 482,000 of its diesel vehicles in the US were fitted with defeat device software to switch engines to a cleaner mode when they were being tested for emissions.

The Wolfsburg-based company announced 11 million vehicles were affected worldwide - including almost 1.2 million in the UK.

The group legal action, the first in relation to the emissions scandal on behalf of UK customers, has been described as an opportunity to hold the firm to account.

Damon Parker, head of litigation at Harcus Sinclair said: “We have paved the way for consumers who trusted but were let down by VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda to seek redress through our courts.

“It is only right that UK car owners affected by the scandal have the opportunity to seek compensation. We have secured funding so that those affected can bring this claim against VW at no cost to themselves.

“The group action aims to ensure that, if VW is found to have misled consumers about the environmental damage caused by their cars, they are penalised accordingly so as to discourage this sort of behaviour from happening again.”

Harcus Sinclair is working with law firms including Slater and Gordon, and has set up a website www.vwemissionsaction.com for those interested in joining the lawsuit.

To date 10,000 individuals and a handful of small companies are part of the action, Parker said.

The application for the group litigation order will be heard in the High Court on 30 January.

In October, VW made a $14.7bn (£12bn) deal with the US Government in order to compensate for the scandal. 

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