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Pollution from Volkswagens could cause 1,200 deaths

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Pollution from 2.6 million Volkswagen cars sold in Germany between 2008 and 2015, manipulated to seem less polluting than they were, will cause 1,200 premature deaths in Europe, a study into the health impacts of the fraud said Friday, AFP reports, and published Germany Sun (Australia).

"The researchers estimate that 1,200 people in Europe will die early, each losing as much as a decade of their life, as a result of excess emissions generated," said the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which took part in the study.
Of these, an estimated 500 deaths will occur in Germany and the rest in neighbouring countries, including Poland, France and the Czech Republic, according to findings published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The same team of researchers had previously estimated that excess emissions from 482,000 Volkswagens sold in the United States would cause 60 premature American deaths.
Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to having installed software in 11 million diesel engines worldwide to circumvent emissions tests.
This was to make the cars seem compliant with pollution limits while in fact they were emitting health-harming pollutants.

In Germany, 2.6 million Volkswagen cars were sold under the brands VW, Audi (IOB: 0FG8.IL - news) , Skoda and Seat, said the researchers.
Air pollution "doesn't care about political boundaries; it just goes straight past," the statement quoted study co-author Steven Barrett of MIT as saying.
"Thus a car in Germany can easily have significant impacts in neighbouring countries, especially in densely populated areas such as the European continent."
If Volkswagen could recall and retrofit all affected German-sold vehicles by the end of 2017, "this would avert 2,600 additional premature deaths and 4.1 billion euros in corresponding health costs," said the authors.

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Volkswagen has been accused of "blatant lies" towards UK car buyers, after the company's UK boss, Paul Willis, told MPs that the company had not misled buyers nor had it fitted defeat devices to its cars, reported Autoexpress (UK).

Appearing before the Transport Select Committee, Willis argued that VW "had not misled customers in any way" and that it had not fitted a defeat device to cars sold in Europe. He said: "There is nothing wrong with any of [the cars] at all." Willis argued the only reason the 1.2 million vehicle recall in the UK was being carried out was to "remove any doubt" from owners.

According to Willis, the VW Group has so far fixed 470,000 cars in the UK and is now repairing cars at a rate of 20,000 a week. The UK boss also told Auto Express the company expects to tip over the 50 per cent mark for vehicle fixes in the coming weeks.

With Volkswagen continuing to deny compensation to affected owners in Europe and the UK, owners have taken matters into their own hands by signing up to a lawsuit led by legal company Harcus Sinclair.
More than 31,000 owners have signed up to the lawsuit, each asking around £3,000 in compensation for buying cars that Harcus Sinclair says should "not have been certified as fit for sale in the UK." The total bill to the VW Group coud total £3.6bn if all 1.2 million drivers join the case.

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Reporter: Denes Osvalt
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