While the VW Group's actions haven't broken any laws, to my mind they do undermine its pledge to act in a more honest and transparent way.
By appearing to try and sneak these latest CO2 revisions to Seat and Audi models through without announcing them to the world in the same way it did for the VW brand, the natural conclusion is that they have tried to keep more bad news away from prying eyes.
Audi and Seat claim to have contacted fleet managers and would-be customers to inform them of the changes, as well as publishing the revised figures in official literature, but those procedural actions stand in stark contrast to the very public VW Group statement released to the world on 9 December regarding changes to VW models.
It’s particularly damaging that the 9 December statement came just a day before Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG Hans Dieter Pötsch and Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller sat in front of the world’s press and claimed that they would leave no stone unturned in their quest to clean up the company’s tarnished image.
To discover that just days later Audi and Seat’s changes were being brought in under the radar smacks of the Group trying to keep the focus of the world’s media on VW and avoid damaging its other brands. Such action may not be strictly dishonest but, given the recent history of turmoil at the brand, and the reasons for it, they are extremely surprising.
The VW Group has learnt some harsh lessons about humility and transparency in recent months. Sadly, it appears to have more still to learn.