October 7, 2015

Vehicle taxes unaffected by VW diesel emissions issue

Around 1.2m cars set for recall in the UK across four brands

Fleet managers and company car drivers have been given the good news that they will not face increases in company car tax, regardless of the outcome of the emissions scandal involving Volkswagen Group vehicles.

In a statement, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said that company cars will not be re-banded for Benefit-In-Kind tax or Vehicle Excise Duty, leaving monthly costs unchanged.

At the same time, Volkswagen Group has set up separate websites for its affected brands in the UK so that drivers can check via their VIN numbers whether their cars are involved.

A spokesperson for HMRC said:

“Company car tax is based on the CO2 emission figures for the particular type of car, shown on either the UK approval certificate or the EU approval certificate.

“As the car benefit charge is calculated on the basis of the figures shown on the approval certificates, the tax position for benefit-in-kind purposes remains unchanged.”

The Government has also confirmed that drivers will not incur higher Vehicle Excise Duty if their existing vehicles are found to be fitted with the software that manipulated the emissions tests.

VW used ‘defeat devices’ to pass emissions tests

The confirmation from the Government that drivers will not be left out of pocket follows widespread revelations that Volkswagen Group used software devices to pass official nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions tests in the US.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found the software device in a number of Volkswagen Group diesel cars with Type EA 189 engines, including the Audi A3, VW Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Passat model.

VW has stopped selling the relevant diesel models in the US, after being ordered to recall almost half a million cars.

And in Europe, the company has now initiated the recall of 11m vehicles for remedial work, which it hopes to begin in January and conclude by the end of 2016.

There is currently an ongoing Government investigation into the extent of this practice which will look at whether the illegal software used by Volkswagen is being used elsewhere.

The Department for Transport has written to vehicle manufacturers to seek further clarity and the next phase will include further laboratory and real world testing by the Vehicle Certification Agency.

New Volkswagen chief executive, Matthias Müller, has told the German press that, if the plans the company has submitted to the country’s transport authority are accepted, then repairs will begin in January and are likely to be complete by the end of 2016.

Volkswagen has also said that in many instances a software update would be sufficient, but that some vehicles may also require hardware modifications.

How many vehicles are affected in the UK?

In total, nearly 1.2m Volkswagen Group vehicles in the UK are to be recalled.

This includes a total of 508,276 Volkswagen cars and 79,838 commercial vehicles, some 393,450 Audi vehicles, 131,569 Skoda vehicles and 76,773 SEAT vehicles.

Volkswagen has said all along that the software in question does not affect handling or fuel consumption and that affected vehicles are still safe to drive and roadworthy.

The company has also said that new vehicles with EU6 diesel engines currently available in the European Union comply with legal requirements and environmental standards and are not affected by the controversy, while all petrol models, as well as V6 TDI and V8 TDI models, are also unaffected.

What can drivers do to check if their vehicles are included?

All Volkswagen Group brands involved have now issued online vehicle identification number (VIN) checkers where drivers can identify affected vehicles by entering their VIN numbers online.

The Volkswagen site enables users to put in their VIN for Volkswagen passenger cars and LCVs and also includes a list of news and FAQs on the situation.

More details of the Volkswagen VIN checking website here www.volkswagen.co.uk/owners/emissionsinfo

The Audi website works in the same way and is available here www.audi.co.uk/owners-area/emissions/check-your-car.html

The SEAT website also works in the same way and is available here: www.seat.co.uk/owners/diesel-engines/vin-number.html

Skoda has also launched a site but is still waiting for the VIN details before drivers can carry out the self-serve checks on their specific vehicles. Volkswagen says these will arrive within the week.

What to do if your vehicle is involved in a recall

There are a number of general guidelines to follow if your vehicle is recalled:

1. Firstly, you do not need to contact anyone. The manufacturer will contact you.

2. They will organise the repair through the most convenient dealer to you at no cost.

3. If you ignore a safety recall, it could seriously affect the value of the car, and invalidate the warranty or any future insurance claim.

4. The repair work could take a few minutes or several hours depending on the nature of the fault.

5. If you are unsure whether your vehicle is involved, you can search on the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency recall search page here.