I start this week’s Buyers’ Guide with a confession. I like my rugby league and have been a fan of the Vodafone Warriors since their introduction into the NRL in 1995.
Why am I telling you this? Well, because I know all about keeping the faith in a brand!
For the head office staff at VW New Zealand their faith has also been stretched to its limits, but the worst may be over. All the bad news about the VW Group cheating the emissions testing programme is now well and truly out in the open.
It’s been well documented and debated and heads have rolled in Germany as a result. Sure, it’s bound to be a rocky road for a while but at least the secret is out and it’s now time to get on with working toward a remedy.
The clean-up is well under way with VW distributors around the globe left to implement plans and strategies to help restore the faith. This will eventually include putting in place a campaign to correct the affected vehicles when a fix finally becomes available.
It won’t happen overnight and owners of affected diesel vehicles need to be patient. But be assured, it will happen.
From what I have witnessed so far, VW NZ is doing a good job of keeping the media, public and their customers updated as promised.
We shouldn’t forget they have taken arguably the biggest blow of all in this scandal. The brand they so passionately represent and believe in is in crisis through no fault of theirs. Yet they have to front up to the media and their loyal customers and put on a brave and positive face.
The coming weeks and months will be a huge test of their company culture, as well as their leadership and teamwork, something which seems to be in serious doubt and at the core of the VW Group’s problems back in Germany.
The big question that I’m sure is on many potential buyers’ lips is whether they should still consider the brand. Current owners could also be asking if it’s a good time to sell or if prices will be negatively affected and are they now left with a lemon.
Opinions will no doubt be divided on this but I would not be removing VW from my list of options.
Overall the brand is very solid. It offers buyers an almost in-between option between mainstream and affordable European luxury. Build and ride quality, along with high specification levels, have been longstanding strong points with the VW badge.
Take, for example, the all-new 2-litre Passat diesel TDI 176kW R-Line sedan ($68,990). This car oozes quality, comfort and good looks, along with an impressive driver assist package which includes adaptive cruise control, lane change assist, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and rear traffic alert.
The other good news is the diesel power unit fitted in the all-new model (B8) is not, according to VW NZ, affected by the emission software tampering issues.
For used diesels fitted with the tampered software I don’t see a huge problem either. Affected vehicles will be recalled over time and VW NZ will bend over backwards to ensure owners are not overly inconvenienced.
The VW brand will eventually get through this crisis and be a better company for it.
The Warriors? I’m not so sure. But I’m still keeping the faith — for one more season.