‘Mass deception’

Diesel emissions breaches in half a million Vauxhall vehicles – one million drivers could be compensated up to £20k each

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 3 February 2021

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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Vauxhall has been accused of ‘mass deception’ by lawyers working on a legal case against the automaker, alleging that emissions from its diesel vehicles ‘could amount to an extra five million vehicles’ worth of harmful pollutants in our air’.

Law firm PGMBM has begun a case against Vauxhall over a diesel emissions scandal that could affect over half a million vehicles bought, financed or leased in England and Wales between 2009 and 2019.

The firm estimates that vehicles will have usually had at least two owners, meaning that the scandal may affect over one million drivers.

Nitrogen oxide emissions

It is alleged that Vauxhall misled both customers and authorities as to the level of toxic emissions produced by certain models of its diesel vehicles.

A report by the European Federation for Transport and Environment ranked Vauxhall (Opel) engines among the worst in Europe for excess nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

Based on the testing of the company’s Euro 6 diesel engines, it was found that in real driving conditions the engines produced 10 times more harmful NOx than legal limits allow.

According to PGMBM, this means that half a million Vauxhall vehicles on British roads may be producing five million vehicles’ worth of harmful pollutants. These pollutants damage the environment and have been linked to public health issues.

Through the alleged use of so-called ‘defeat devices’, Vauxhall effectively masked their vehicles’ diesel pollution output. This allowed them to pass emissions tests that they otherwise would not have.

Compensating Vauxhall drivers

PGMBM has urged drivers in England and Wales to come forward and join the campaign if they purchased, financed or leased a potentially affected diesel vehicle manufactured by Vauxhall between 2009 and 2019.

Potentially affected vehicles include the Vauxhall Astra, Cascada, Corsa, Insignia, Mokka, Movano and Zafira.

Drivers who bought, financed or leased these vehicles could now be entitled to compensation as part of the class action case – estimated to be up to £20,000 each, according to PGMBM.

‘We believe that there are grounds to suspect Vauxhall has orchestrated a mass deception of the public, mis-selling vehicles that not only fail to meet the specifications, but risk damage to the environment and our collective health.

‘Some vehicles are producing up to 10 times the amount of pollutants permitted. That affects drivers, their passengers, passers-by and anyone who breathes the air around us. This isn’t some trivial percentage over the line, it could amount to an extra five million vehicles’ worth of harmful pollutants in our air.

‘The power to force Vauxhall to acknowledge their wrongdoing, and change their practices, rests in the hands of those who join the case against them. It is absolutely imperative that we hold Vauxhall to account, forcing them to operate with a greater social and environmental conscience.

‘Legally, affected consumers could be entitled to claim back the full cost of their vehicle. Based on our estimates, each claimant could expect up to £20,000.’

TOM GOODHEAD
PGMBM’s Managing Partner

Defeat devices

Revelations about Vauxhall’s true diesel emissions contrast with its own Environmental and Energy Policy, which states: ‘Opel/Vauxhall is committed to protecting human health, natural resources and the environment. This dedication includes compliance with the law, but goes beyond and encompasses the integration of sound environmental and energy-conscious practices into all business decisions.’

A defeat device detects when the engine is being tested and limits the amount of NOx emissions produced in order to comply with regulatory standards. The levels of emissions produced under test conditions differ considerably to what is emitted during normal road use by vehicle drivers.

Higher production of NOx pollutants can result in higher fuel and maintenance costs, as well as impaired vehicle performance.

Compromising health

Toxic diesel emissions are also extremely harmful to people. The Royal College of Physicians claims that illegal levels of air pollution result in over 40,000 early deaths per year.

NOx is a significant factor in air pollution and respiratory conditions, particularly affecting both young and vulnerable people.

Vauxhall is a founding member of the Motability Scheme, which allows people to put their higher rate mobility allowance towards the lease of a car, wheelchair-accessible vehicle, scooter or powered wheelchair.

However, exposing vulnerable people to higher NOx emissions may be compromising their health, seriously affecting respiratory conditions and causing inflammation of the airways.

Diesel litigation

The issue of diesel emissions is increasingly visible across the automotive industry following successful ‘Dieselgate’ litigation against Volkswagen, with similar cases currently in progress against Mercedes-Benz, Fiat Chrysler and the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance (also brought by PGMBM).

These cases highlight systemic, large-scale emissions cheating by manufacturers.

PGMBM estimates that over half a million Vauxhall vehicles in England and Wales could be affected by the scandal.

Based on a projection of up to £20,000 compensation per affected vehicle, that could mean a potential £10 billion liability for Vauxhall.

PGMBM intends to apply for a Group Litigation Order (GLO), which allows individual claims to be progressed together and be treated as one by the courts. The case can be joined on no-win, no-fee basis.

To make a claim on a no-win, no-fee basis, or for more information regarding the Vauxhall NOx Emissions Group Litigation, visit vauxhallclaimlawyers.com.

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