In September 2015, government investigators in the United States found that Volkswagen had installed a ‘defeat device’ in certain diesel models, a type of software that could detect when the vehicle was undergoing a standard emissions test and temporarily reduce emission levels so as to meet the performance standard required by law26.
As a result, thousands of cars which breached US emissions regulations are thought to have been sold.
Subsequently, it has emerged that the practice was also employed by VW in Europe, while other manufacturers have admitted that fuel-efficiency statistics can be misleading because of the inadequacies of the standard test that all manufacturers are required to use27.
The 2016 Report on Motoring found that more than a third of drivers (35%) say their trust in the car manufacturing industry as a whole has fallen over the past 12 months against just 12% who say it has increased. However, motorists appear to have more faith in the company which makes their current vehicle: only 9% say their trust in the manufacturer of the car they own at the moment has declined, compared with 26% who report it has gone up.
35% of drivers say their trust in the car manufacturing industry as a whole has fallen over the past 12 months
43% of car owners who have lost trust in their current car's manufacturer no longer believe their emissions claims
Unsurprisingly, Volkswagen owners are more likely to have lost faith – almost a third (29%) said their trust levels were down. The most common reason given by owners who had lost trust in their current car’s manufacturer is that they no longer believe their emissions claims (43% say this), while a quarter (25%) no longer think their carmaker’s claims on fuel efficiency are credible.