The bill would cover the cost of the 80,000 Dieselgate-affected cars in London that escaped congestion charge payments due to their low-emissions classification, reports the BBC. Volkswagen says the cars qualified for a discount on the charge and that since no CO2 change has been measured, they still meet the criteria at the time.
The BBC also reported Khan as describing VW’s actions as “nothing short of a disgrace”; the famously outspoken London mayor has since introduced and proposed stringent fees and penalties for drivers of diesel cars since the scandal emerged, such as a Toxicity charge, due to be introduced in October.
Volkswagen emphasised that the cars were discounted due to their sub-100g/km status. No official CO2 figures on affected cars have been changed, so they did not qualify for the discount under a falsehood.
Volkswagen issued the following statement in reaction to Sadiq Khan’s suggestion: “Volkswagen is clear that all of its vehicles which were affected by the NOx issue, and which benefited from the Congestion Charge Greener Vehicle Discount, did so validly throughout the relevant period.”
Khan wrote to VW late last year, saying: “There is no excuse for the utter lack of action VW has taken in London since the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal came to light,” according to The Guardian.
He continued: “I want to see a proper commitment from them to fully compensate the thousands of Londoners who bought VW cars in good faith, but whose diesel engines are now contributing to London’s killer air.
“I also urge them to reimburse Transport for London (TfL) the £2.5m lost in congestion charge revenue, which I will use to fund a new schools air quality programme that will reduce the exposure and raise the awareness of schoolchildren in London attending schools in the most polluted areas.”
Khan said London was home to 80,000 VW vehicles (2009 to 2015 model years) that were affected by the “cheat devices” – software that allowed various Volkswagen models to detect when they were being tested for emissions and change engine settings to pass. The scandal affected 11 million vehicles worldwide.
Volkswagen has agreed a deal in the US to compensate owners and dealers who were misled by the emissions claims but has said it will not pay out in Europe.
Khan, who became London mayor in May of last year, also requested that VW updates him on progress on the reprogramming of affected vehicles, asking when the work would be completed.
The British Government has also urged VW to pay compensation to British owners and threatened prosecution over the scandal. The company already faces legal proceedings in several countries around the world, including the US, Norway, South Korea and Germany. It’s not the first time Volkswagen has rejected others’ proposed levies on the brand; Volkswagen continues to reject the notion that owners in Europe should be compensated, and also refused to cover the cost of a government re-testing of a sample of the UK car market.