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VicRoads flexes muscles at VW

Feeling blue: Following a European announcement, it is expected the Volkswagen Golf TDI Blue Motion will be the next model to receive corrective engine management, to fix excessive NOx emissions.

Registrations of emissions regulation-violating VWs could be cancelled

29 Apr 2016

VICTORIA'S road and transport regulator VicRoads could cancel the registrations of Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda vehicles that do not comply with emissions standards, if they are not recalled for corrective action.

As with any vehicle recall, the governing body has the authority to suspend vehicle registrations, thereby making them illegal for road use, if the company responsible does not carry out remedial work within a reasonable period.

Since the confirmation that multiple Volkswagen Group vehicles sold in Australia were affected by the diesel emissions cheating scandal, only the Volkswagen Amarok one-tonne ute has been called in for its engine management reprogram, but others are expected to get the call soon.

While VicRoads has the power to impose sanctions on any car that does not comply to Victorian road laws, it has not officially stated that it is considering such action for the diesel Audi, Volkswagen or Skoda models.

In a statement, VicRoads confirmed that it can, under extreme circumstances, suspend registrations but only after a manufacturer refuses to rectify a problem voluntarily.

“In Australia, vehicles that are found not to comply with the standards for registration, including emissions standards, or have safety issues are subject to recall through Commonwealth law,” it said.

“If vehicles are not fixed voluntarily by the manufacturer, or through the Commonwealth's mandatory recall process, VicRoads is sent a list of outstanding vehicles. It is only at this stage that we can decide whether further action, including suspension of registration is necessary.

“In Victoria, the Environmental Protection Agency is also a regulator of vehicle emissions laws. Further comment from the EPA Victoria should be sought on the application of their law.” Since Volkswagen Group is in the process of recalling vehicles, it is unlikely VicRoads will regard the car-maker's actions as insufficient and impose further authoritative action.

Volkswagen Group is yet to announce the next model for recall in Australia, but in Europe the car giant is now calling in the first affected passenger model – the Volkswagen Golf – with customers being contacted with recall instructions.

“The first model that customers will be soon able to make a service appointment for is the Golf TDI Blue Motion Technology (BMT) with a 2.0l engine,” a statement from Volkswagen Group read.

“In Europe around 15,000 Golf cars affected with a manual gearbox are being called to the workshops. Further Volkswagen passenger car brand models will follow shortly in the recall process.” With the Golf fix now ready for administration, it is likely the service protocol will be rolled out in other global regions, including Australia.

Speaking to GoAuto, Audi Australia corporate communications general manager Anna Burgdorf said she could only speak on behalf of the Audi brand, but the first fixes were expected to follow the European Volkswagen announcement.

“We hope to implement a recall for Australian Audi models as quickly as possible and as soon as we have received the technical solution from Europe for each engine type, we will be able to work with the Australian authorities and begin to contact customers,” she said.

“I think it's the A4 that we will soon be able to start recalling in Australia, but we don't have the technical solution at this time.” Customers of all other impacted models are still waiting for instructions from the respective manufacturers, following the last official statement on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) website, which advised owners to do nothing until contacted.

“Until a technical solution is made available... customers do not need to take any further action. In the meantime your vehicle remains safe to drive,” it said in October 2015.

Affected vehicles may not pose a direct safety hazard, but the impacted 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesel models are producing excessive nitrogen oxide NOx emissions, which are known to cause human respiratory irritation as well as acid rain and eutrophication in aquatic ecosystems.

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