CHINA: VW criticised for ignoring DSG gearbox customer complaints
Volkswagen has upset a number of Chinese consumers, particularly among the online community, who say the carmaker has failed to respond to complaints about a defective direct-shift gearbox (DSG) in one of its most important markets.
Chinese consumers' discontent toward Volkswagen came after the carmaker said it would not recall vehicles with problems in the DSG, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Chinese 'netizens' say that Volkswagen failed to treat Chinese consumers the same way it handled complaints in overseas market where the company recalled defective vehicles.
Volkswagen said the gearboxes fitted to cars sold in China are merely an inconvenience and do not pose a safety risk or warrant a vehicle recall, advocating the use of software updates to resolve any problems.
But Volkswagen took a different approach in other markets, recalling 13,500 vehicles in North America in 2009 when similar complaints surfaced about DSG problems.
A survey conducted this month by Chinese auto industry website, gasgoo.com, showed over three quarters of respondents believed the DSG technology does have problems.
The survey also found that owners of Volkswagen vehicles equipped with DSG gearboxes complained about difficulty and sometimes an inability in shifting gears as early as two years ago.
According to the survey, 39% of Chinese respondents said Volkswagen simply did not respect the rights of consumers in China.
Yu Jianliang, a columnist for autohome.com.cn, a website that focuses on auto consumption in China, said Volkswagen's refusal to recall those defective vehicles underlines its arrogance toward Chinese consumers.
"To Chinese consumers, Volkswagen is increasingly overweening," Yu wrote in his online column.
The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), China's quality watchdog, said earlier this month that it has been in contact with Volkswagen (China) since some customers complained about the defective DSG gearboxes installed in the company's vehicles.
The complaints of Chinese consumers included unusual noises, vibrations and transmission problems in the DSG 'boxes.
Volkswagen insists it will not recall the vehicles as the reported problems pose no threat to vehicles' safety.
But experts from the AQSIQ said technology improvements cannot fully address the defects and it ordered Volkswagen to conduct more investigations and take effective measures to resolve the issues.
Meanwhile, the AQSIQ said it is conducting probes with some professional institutes and will require Volkswagen to recall the products if the DSG is confirmed to be flawed.
China has become Volkswagen's largest market, as passenger cars sold under the brand totaled 818,800 in China (including Hong Kong) in the first two months of this year, up 8% year on year, the Xinhua report said.
Internet column quoting a Good Morning America investigation here
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