Volkswagen says just half of its existing models have gained type approval under the latest emission regulations, following delays in a new certification process.
From 1 September all new cars sold within the European Union are obliged to fulfil tough new regulations as part of the so-called Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) developed to provide a more realistic measure of fuel consumption and emissions.
However, Volkswagen’s head of sales and marketing in Germany, Thomas Zahn, has confirmed the company has only achieved type approval for seven of the 14 model lines sold in Europe.
“The new tests are more cumbersome and take two to three times longer than in the past. Even limited edition models need to be tested separately,” Zahn said in a conference call with journalists this week, adding, “The coming months will be challenging for us.”
Significantly, Volkswagen’s best selling model, the Volkswagen Golf, is among the models yet to have gained total clearance. The volume-selling variants are expected to be certified in the next two weeks, with the brand's test bench running 24hrs a day to clear the certification process.
The delay has left Volkswagen with growing customer unrest as delivery times on popular models are forced to be extended, with some Golf variants delayed by as much as six months, according to German dealer sources, who described the situation as “disastrous”.
Zahn said he expects the full Golf range to gain certification clearance by the end of September. Even so, some customers are already being quoted delivery times into 2019. A Volkswagen UK spokesperson has confirmed that the average lead time for most Golf variants here is around 14 to 15 weeks, up from 6 to 10 weeks before WLTP was introduced.
In anticipation of the delay in deliveries due to the WLTP certification, Volkswagen has begun stockpiling new cars produced at factories around Europe. 80% of those cars are already sold, however.
The German car maker recently revealed it had rented ground space at Berlin’s new international airport, which has yet to open, to accommodate thousands of newly produced cars with the intent to begin delivery as soon as they have been granted type approval by authorities.
Autocar is awaiting comment from other Volkswagen Group manufacturers, such as SEAT, Skoda and Audi, regarding whether or not UK deliveries are being affected.