JACK BIDDLE HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN NZ’S CAR MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY. HE HAS STRONG OPINIONS ON THE VOLKSWAGEN SCANDAL
Is the latest motoring industry scandal coming out of Volkswagen a wakeup call badly needed by the motoring industry as a whole?
I think it is.
The VW Group is in the news for all the wrong reasons following revelations that the German company fitted software to four-cylinder diesel vehicles designed to trick the US Environmental Protection Agency’s strict tailpipe emission tests.
Volkswagen is in the spotlight at the moment, but you can’t help thinking who is it going to be tomorrow. When there is so much mass production and shared technology, it doesn’t take much for undetected pre-production quality issues to affect millions of cars.
There are too many motoring industry players in face-saving mode. There are the airbag (numerous brands) and ignition switch (General Motors) safety-related recalls, which now affect millions of vehicles globally.
These campaigns appear to be escalating daily rather than settling down.
It makes me wonder if some of these issues should have been identified and taken seriously a long time ago.
Is the industry too focused on other things such as infotainment systems or is it taking cost-saving shortcuts? And while the industry may dislike answering to independent organisations or specific testing regimes, those seem to be keeping it honest at the moment.
The VW emission scandal has snowballed and recent reports suggest around 11 million vehicles could be affected, including Audis and Skodas.
Here are questions from Driven readers about the issue. Answers are based on information known to date.
How do I know if my car is involved?
VW NZ is waiting to hear from Germany about which models and how many vehicles could be affected. This will take some time so be patient. They have promised to keep customers and the press informed and updated as required. The pressure is on them to deliver sooner rather than later.
How far back does it go?
Still under investigation, but reports would suggest it may go as far back as 2009 for some markets.
Will the ‘cheat’ affect fuel economy in my VW diesel if it is recalled?
At this stage we will have to wait for VW NZ to inform us of all the potential downsides. These may include a change in claimed fuel consumption and performance figures for some makes/models.
Will my VW pass its next WoF?
When cars are imported into NZ they are required to have been built to and have met a specific emission standard, and are not tested to ensure they actually do. It’s all part of the “trust” that government officials around the world place with individual manufacturers.
Provided an engine is not modified after production, and is kept in a good state of tune, then there is no reason to put owners in this country through the potential high cost of any form of tailpipe emission testing during ownership.
The best advice at this stage is to do nothing and wait for further information. Globally it’s a massive issue for the entire VW Group to sort out in terms of trying to restore faith and trust in the brand and to come up with a reassuring answer and ultimate fix.
Hopefully the greater industry will take a hard look at itself in light of its current recall record and shortcomings in other areas. It’s not a good look for the industry but I will live in hope some good will eventually come out of it.
Those who work in, and have a strong passion for the motoring industry, deserve better — as do the customers.
■VW NZ helpline for customers wishing to make direct contact: email: email@example.com, freephone 0800 735 456