EU national consumer bodies press Volkswagen on Dieselgate repairs

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Volkswagen company is seen on a car on an assembly line at the Volkswagen car factory in Palmela, Portugal, December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European national consumer bodies pressed Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE to fix all emissions-cheating vehicles by the end of the year, in a joint letter on Thursday showing mounting impatience with the German carmakers response to the Dieselgate scandal.

VW has pledged billion of dollars to compensate owners of its diesel cars in the United States, where it admitted to cheating emissions test in 2015.

But it has so far rejected such calls for the 8.5 million affected vehicles in Europe, where different legal rules weaken the chances of winning a pay out.

The agencies from the EU’s 28 member states call in the letter, signed by the European Commission and the Dutch consumer authority, which has taken the lead in the case, for Volkswagen to confirm it can meet its own timeline for removing illicit software that cheated emissions tests.

“Only by acting together can consumer authorities ensure that EU consumer law is respected,” Europe’s Commissioner for Justice Vera Jourova said in a statement.

“With today’s joint position, EU consumers can be sure that both consumer authorities in member states and the European Commission are on their side and that any half measures will not be accepted.”

While the letter makes a show of unity, it will still be up to member states individually to follow up with action to defend its consumers.

The letter, addressed to VW’s CEO, urged the carmaker to inform affected car owners as soon as possible, to make legally-binding assurances that the technical fix will not diminish the value of their vehicles, help ease the work of car dealerships, and be prepared to extend the period for offering free repairs.

Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel @AdeCar; editing by Philip Blenkinsop