VW's European customers to get lower compensation than those in the US

Even as Volkswagen AG appeared in court to seal a $15-billion settlement to resolve its emissions scandal in the US (See: Emissions scam: VW to pay up to $14.7 m to settle claims), chief executive Matthias Müller met EC officials over demands that the German car maker also offer generous compensation for around 9 million European customers.

During the meeting on Thursday with Elzbieta Bienkowska, the EU industry commissioner, Müller said Volkswagen had no intention of offering equal compensation to Europeans who bought the diesel vehicles fitted with the emission cheating software.

He added that due to stricter US emissions standards making the cars compliant necessitated hefty payments in the US, but not in Europe.

''I said this to the Commissioner in a personal conversation on Thursday in Brussels,'' Müller said in comments published yesterday in Germany's weekly Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

While Müller's stance was based on differences between US and European law, his main concern was the company would suffer potentially irreparable financial damage in the event it offered the same level of compensation for its European customers.

While in the US, 500,000 customers are affected, in the Europe nearly 9 million customers are affected.

''Volkswagen is solid financially, but you don't have to be a mathematician to see that damage payments in some arbitrary amount would even be too much for Volkswagen to cope with,'' he told Welt am Sonntag.

Meanwhile, San Franisco attorney Lesley Weaver started getting calls soon after it emerged that Volkswagen had cheated on diesel emissions tests.

''The people who bought these vehicles really care about the environment,'' said the San Francisco attorney. ''These vehicles were worse than if they had bought a regular vehicle.''

''It's a very esteemed group of people who filed,'' record-eagle.com quoited her as saying. ''There were hundreds and thousands of cases filed all across the country.''

Weaver was one of the many attorneys who initiated action on behalf of clients against Volkswagen.