October 16, 2015
Read the latest update
On September 25 the APA Newsletter overed the controversy over the discovery that 2009-2016 2L turbodiesels sold by Volkswagen and Audi in North America were equipped with software designed to cheat on government emissions tests. Not for a moment should anyone think the decision to cheat was made by three programmers who wrote some code and then went out to celebrate over a few bottles of Beck`s -- that`s ludicrous. This is more like a Lance Armstrong situation where many people had good reason to suspect that cheating was going on, but VW did it more brazenly and perhaps longer than everyone else. It`s more than possible that other automakers also "failed to inform" the environmental regulators here and in Europe about performance characteristics of their diesels that result in on-the-road emissions well above the laboratory limits under certain conditions. The consensus among experts appears to be that 2015-2016 VW diesels with the AdBlue exhaust treatment system will be easier to bring into compliance than older engines without it.
If you own a VW diesel, you should have received a letter of apology from Maria Stenstrom, the President of Volkswagen Canada. The letter is short on specifics, in part because any measures will have to be approved by head office in Germany and not conflict with corrective measures developed for VW customers in the United States. (If you have not received a communication from VW Canada within the next couple of weeks and own one of the concerned vehicles, check with a dealer or the automaker to ensure their records on your vehicle are current.) If you own or lease one of the Volkswagen diesel vehicles cited for emissions non-compliance and haven`t done so already, we invite you to complete the VW Diesel Emissions Complaint Form on the APA website. To date we`ve received more than 200 responses.
About 25 motions to certify class action lawsuits have been filed in various Canadian provinces, and 175 filed in the United States. One of the actions filed in Quebec is on behalf of every resident of the province, claiming $50 in damages per person for breathing polluted air. The APA has been in touch with some of the principal law firms involved in the class action, as well as dealer associations, to stay on top of this issue. The courts in both Canada and the United States will have to determine which lawsuits get certified, and many law firms are hammering out agreements to work together to improve their chances. Ontario`s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glenn Murray, has said that Ontario has received assurances from VW that it will take remedial action tailored to becoming compliant in Ontario; it`s unlikely that VW diesel non-compliance would disrupt the provincial DriveClean inspection program, as the Minister has said he wants to minimize the inconvenience for owners. A VW diesel can pass the inspection, and the practice at DriveClean is to apply a waiver when a known problem is unrepairable.
Among other recent developments, VW has dropped diesel models from its Canadian website and advertising, and the current stop-sale order on retail sales of new and used VW diesels in dealer inventories continues (independent used car dealers are not covered by the prohibition). Beginning in early 2016, VW has plans to implement a recall process for vehicles in customers` hands, with the required repairs to be undertaken over a year or two.
Volkswagen Canada is providing a contribution of $2,000 on every diesel traded in for a gas Volkswagen. As of mid-October, VW is offering $500 to $4,250 in cash rebates on remaining 2015 models ($5,500 on the outgoing Touareg), but surprisingly, nothing yet on the 2016 Golf and Jetta. Retailers may benefit from an additional incentive from the manufacturer that is a moving target depending on meeting sales objectives in a particular month. Audi and VW Canada also offer Loyalty Discounts to returning clients, which are not tied to diesel ownership.