Sadiq Khan wants Volkswagen to cough up £2.5m owed to London in congestion charges

Rebecca Smith
The mayor says he means business on air pollution in the capital
The mayor says he means business on air pollution in the capital (Source: Getty)

As if Volkswagen didn't have enough on its plate, now it's facing a £2.5m compensation demand from mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

Khan has written to the car giant after Transport for London (TfL) found that an estimated 80,000 of the 500,000 VW cars registered to addresses in the capital, were fitted with illegal defeat devices. So many have escaped the congestion charge for years.

The devices reduced vehicle emissions during certification tests and for models with smaller diesel engines, they were so effective that in tests, the emissions produced were well below the level where the congestion charge would come into play. The owners involved wouldn't have had to pay it as a result.

Read more: Sadiq Khan is cracking down on the capital's most polluting vehicles

In September last year, Volkswagen accepted it had installed so-called "defeat devices" on its diesel vehicles to beat official emissions standards tests and make cars look less polluting than they were.

TfL has now calculated it lost around £2.5m in congestion charge revenue as a resulted of VW owners claiming a discount they potentially weren't entitled to.

Khan said:

There is no excuse for the utter lack of action VW has taken in London since the ‘dieselgate’ scandal came to light.

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.

He urged the company to "reimburse TfL the £2.5m lost in congestion charge revenue", which he will use to fund an air quality programme for schools. Khan said that will "reduce the exposure and raise the awareness of school children in London attending schools in the most polluted area".

The mayor has asked VW for a progress update on its commitment to re-programme the defeat devices in affected vehicles and the expected completion date.

Read more: This is how much Londoners will pay to live in the congestion charge zone

But he's unimpressed with only offering a software-based fix compared to the compensation and buy-back settlement agreed with US regulatory authorities for American consumers - deeming it "woefully insufficient" in comparison.

An excerpt from the mayor's letter to Volkswagen:

I urge you to provide compensation to Londoners who bought your vehicles in We estimate there are 500,000 VW vehicles (Audi, SEAT, Skoda and Volkswagen) registered to addresses in Greater London, of which 80,000 are model year 2009-2015 diesel vehicles. You have committed to re-programme the defeat devices in affected vehicles. I would like to know what progress you have made with implementing this programme and the expected completion date.

Your continued cooperation with the government and the further action you take in respect of consumers will be a vital first step in delivering wider efforts to phase out high-polluting diesel vehicles from urban areas, and would demonstrate your commitment to taking the difficult decisions necessary to rebuild your reputation with Londoners. I hope you will take this opportunity.

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