No higher tax for cars affected by emissions scandal

  • Government to ensure no one will end up with higher tax costs as a result of scandal
  • Current testing approach to be revisited
  • EU-level action urged to improve public confidence in testing

The government has announced that UK taxpayers will not incur higher tax costs if their current car is found to be fitted with illegal software that manipulates emissions tests.

Following VW’s admission of using ‘defeat devices’ in diesel cars, there's an ongoing government investigation into the extent of this practice and the next phase will look at whether the illegal software is being used elsewhere.

The Department for Transport (DfT) wrote to manufacturers last week to seek further clarity and this next phase will include laboratory and real world testing by the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Our priority is to protect the public and give them full confidence in diesel tests. The government expects VW to support owners of these vehicles already purchased in the UK and we are playing our part by ensuring noone will end up with higher tax costs as a result of this scandal.”

In addition to writing to manufacturers, the DfT has also urged EU-level action to improve public confidence in testing.

McLoughlin continued, “We are also starting our testing programme to get to the bottom of what the situation is for VW cars in the UK and understand the wider implications for other car types to give all consumers certainty,”

All cars sold in the UK have to undergo an official emissions test under EU law which has been criticised for its lack of relevancy to real world driving. It's a laboratory test which dates back to 1996: the car is put onto a ‘rolling road’ and will then perform a standardised drive cycle known as the New European Drive Cycle (NEDC) – which contains set acceleration/deceleration levels, and replicates different driving conditions. 

Following this scandal the DfT will work closely with VCA and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to carry out a programme of tests, initially re-testing diesel cars that the VW group has confirmed contain ‘defeat device’ software. The tests will be approved by the VCA and carried out in both a laboratory and during real-world driving.

These measurements will be used as a benchmark for further testing, with the final programme to be developed for all future emission and economy testing.

The government is liaising with other EU countries’ approval authorities who are currently conducting similar investigations. This coordinated approach will improve consistency and enable testing of the widest range of vehicles across Europe.