NZ distances itself from Volkswagen scandal

A visitor passes by a Volkswagen advertisement at the Frankfurt Motor Show, which is on in Germany at the same time as ...

A visitor passes by a Volkswagen advertisement at the Frankfurt Motor Show, which is on in Germany at the same time as the company's US operation faces scandal over allegedly falsifying exhaust emiissions data.

Volkswagen New Zealand has moved to distance itself from the emissions-fixing scandal that has hit the brand in the United States.

General manager Tom Ruddenklau says the Volkswagens sold in New Zealand are all sourced from Europe where they undergo emissions testing to standards completely different to those in the USA.

"So there is absolutely no concern for our New Zealand customers," he said.

"But if any customers do have any concerns, we invite them to go to their dealership where their vehicles will be given a complimentary health check.

Ruddenklau admits to feeling deflated by the news of the VW scandal in North America.

"That's the most frustrating thing, because while technically this issue has nothing to do with us, it may affect customer faith and belief in the brand. So all we can do is be genuine and apologise." 


What's The Accusation?

The US Environmental Protection Agency claims German auto manufacturer Volkswagen has cheated on emissions tests in America by using "defeat device" software that detects when a diesel car is undergoing official emissions testing and turns on full emissions controls only during the test.

The organisation claims that during normal driving when the defeat device isn't operating, emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX) can be up to 40 times the standard.

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What's Happened Since?

The EPA has accused VW of using the device in 482,000 four-cylinder VW Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Passat and Audi A3 cars in the US since 2008.

It has ordered the manufacturer to recall all the cars, remove the defeat device, and improve the NOX emissions, VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn has apologised, stating he is deeply sorry for breaking the public's trust. He has ordered an external investigation.

Could The Scandal Spread?

It already has. The German government has launched its own investigation, with the Economy Minister warning that there's a real danger the VW scandal could damage the reputation of the entire powerhouse German motor industry which employs 800,000 people.

Speculation is also now beginning to arise that the manipulation of exhaust emissions data could be more widespread, with some commentators claiming that there is anecdotal evidence that other manufacturers could also be using the defeat devices.

What About the Financial Consequences?

For starters, Volkswagen could be fined up to US$16.5 billion, its executives could face criminal charges, and there may be the prospect of legal action from customers. VW shares have also plummeted, wiping billions of dollars off their value. The value of shares in other European vehicle manufacturers have also fallen amid concerns they may be caught up in the investigations.

What's the New Zealand Situation?

VW Beetle, Golf and Passat, and Audi A3 cars are all sold here. Volkswagen NZ has sent an internal message to its dealerships pointing out that this scandal is specific to the US market, and that product sold in this country is emissions tested to European standards so is not implicated. However the company is advising dealers that if any customers express concern, they should be offered a complimentary health check for their vehicles.  

 - Stuff

Related Links

VW facing criminal probe

VW 'deeply sorry' for diesel duping

VW could face $28b in fines

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