NZ Volkswagen owners having trouble selling: lawyer
New Zealanders stung by Volkswagen's global emissions scandal are having trouble trading in second-hand vehicles, says a lawyer organising legal action against the brand.
Volkswagen's independently-owned local franchise is waiting for confirmation that remedial measures proposed in Europe for diesel vehicles fitted with emission-cheating software will not reduce their engine performance or fuel efficiency
Meanwhile, it says it is prepared to help VW owners unable to sell second-hand vehicles to rival dealerships at fair prices to obtain better deals through its own network.
Volkswagen AG in Germany, which in September admitted up to 11 million vehicles worldwide had been fitted with software designed to suppress smog-inducing nitrogen oxide emissions during air testing, says technical remedies developed for a proposed rollout across 28 European countries have been "ratified" by Berlin's Federal Motor Transport Authority.
But it has yet to obtain final confirmation that these will meet its objective of maintaining fuel efficiency and engine performance, saying they have to be measured across all affected diesel models.
They include a proposed half-hour software upgrade for 2-litre models such Tiguan SUVs -- of which New Zealand has 2222 affected by the scandal --and the fitting of a mesh "flow transformer" to 1.6-litre vehicles including Golfs and Polos.
The smaller cars will also require software updates, but VW expects both technical remedies to take less than an hour, through a recall likely to run throughout next year in Europe.
A rollout schedule has yet to be indicated for affected owners of around 9000 VW, Audi and Skoda vehicles in this country, but VW New Zealand head Tom Ruddenklau is confident a local recall will be completed within that period.
"Technically, they [VW AG] they have found a solution to the emissions issue, which is a software update or a little piece of plastic in the inlet side of the engine on the 1.6-litre models," he said yesterday.
"But what we are waiting on is ensuring that the performance of the vehicle is not altered through the implementation of the fix."
Wellington lawyer Edward Cox, who says a "substantial" but undisclosed number of affected owners have registered with his firm for a potential class action against Volkswagen, wants any such fix to be assessed by an independent agency in New Zealand to ensure it will not harm vehicle performance.
"If it's true, it's fantastic, but where is the independent proof to New Zealand owners that this will work?" he said.
"Now they are being asked to accept at Volkswagen's word that these solutions will make the vehicles do what they were bought to do, which is to meet European emissions standards without having any detrimental effect on them.
"Why should New Zealand owners be asked to trust Volkswagen a second time?"
Mr Cox said owners had phoned his firm complaining that when trying to trade in their vehicles, dealers were telling them: "We won't touch that Volkswagen."
"That's tangible evidence of damage to people's vehicles, and yet there is no discussion of compensation," he said.
Mr Ruddenklau said he had heard from "a couple" of owners in such a predicament, but was confident they would receive good offers from VW dealers.
"The ironical thing is that for some of the vehicle that are affected here, like the VW Tiguan, there is such a huge demand for those second-hand diesels," he said.
"I can't comment on how other manufacturers price their sales, but I can say we are very keen to get hold of good used diesels.
"So if Edward's got some clients who have diesel Tiguans or whatever it is, put them in touch and we'll look after them."