Here at Autocar we’ve had calls and emails from owners of Volkswagen cars since the emissions testing scandal blew up.
Volkswagen itself has not been particularly forthcoming about that aspect of this scandal; not to us and evidently not to its customers.
One owner told us he telephoned Skoda and was initially promised a response within 48 hours. When none was forthcoming, he chased them up and found they had gone into ‘information lockdown’ mode and claimed they couldn’t offer him any information at all.
Volkswagen’s position is that it needs to be thorough in coming up with a fix to the issue. It is promising a website will soon go live to allow concerned owners to input their car’s VIN number and find out whether they will need to visit a dealer for tweaks.
It’s fair enough that Volkswagen needs to be cautious, particularly in light of the legal ramifications it is facing around the globe, but right now it’s main duty should be to ensuring the people who put tens of thousands of pounds into Wolfsburg’s coffers get the information they want.
The fact that yesterday Volkswagen UK announced that it is withdrawing 4000 cars equipped with the EA189 engine (and therefore possibly including the software) from the forecourts is a positive step because it suggests they are finally getting a grip on the problem.
Volkswagen also says that compiling a list of cars fitted with the offending emissions test cheat software is a huge task because it involves different makes, models and specifications.
I found it astounding that a company such as the Volkswagen Group and its associated brands is not able to lay its hands on a spreadsheet that tells them precisely which cars have the EA189 engine and where they are in the world.
This is a company that has a meticulous attention to detail in every aspect of its business, an approach that has built it into the world’s biggest car company.
Everything about the cars it produces is logged and charted, down to the tiniest screw. Heck, it even gives a factory part number to the bratwurst it sells in the canteen at its Wolfsburg headquarters.
The story is clinging to the agenda of the daily news media like a tenacious limpet. The sporadic drip-feed of information isn’t doing the public perception of Volkswagen any favours. Right now, it needs a clear, bold voice to assure current and future customers that it is a brand in control of its destiny.