Blog: Graeme RobertsVW bites the bullet down under

Graeme Roberts | 12 June 2013

I don't think the saga of the problematic VWs in Australia is going to go down as one of the auto industry's Great PR Moments.

In a saga so far into about its third week, the automaker appeared to try every move possible to avoid recalling cars for possible DSG twin clutch gearbox and engine problems, attracting huge and not very favourable media coverage, including allegations head office in Germany had gagged the Australian outpost.

And, finally, came the inevitable capitulation, followed, very soon after by the addition of some Audi cars to the recall roster, with some Skodas expected to be added as well.

My own experience, and that of one of the few UK writers who looks - beyond the high-viz new model launches and road tests - at how actual buyers get on with cars, is that VW reliability and longevity are sometimes not what the brand is usually reputed for.

This comment sums it up rather nicely: "A few years ago, Toyota had some issues, but came clean and issued worldwide recalls. In direct contrast, it took years for Volkswagen to acknowledge a supplier issue it had with ATE Teves Mk 60 ABS/ESP modules. These issues now seem to be resolved, but to reassure potential customers Toyota went a step further and issued a five-year UK warranty on its cars. 

"Ford still persists with a one-year manufacturer warranty followed by a two-year dealer warranty. But if VW honestly believes that it offers a higher quality, more reliable product, why does it too not issue a five-year UK warranty?

"If Volkswagen did this, we'd all be a lot happier and VW would sell even more cars than it currently does."

What would you prefer? Having to spot somewhere in the media a 'suggestion' you call your VW dealer to see if your car may be problematic?

Or a polite call from the dealer, asking you to bring it in at your convenience, at a time to suit, for a check just to make sure all is well?

I've talked to Toyota insiders about the major 'sticky accelerator' recall a few years ago. They found the proactive approach where the dealer made the first contact generated a great deal of goodwill and, in a few cases, actually led to new car sales.

Which sits better with you? A company that 'fesses up and offers a fix if necessary? Or one that hides behind the whey-faced accountant, management and PR suits and just offers excuses?

VW might well be pondering this down under right about now.

Companies: Audi, Volkswagen, VW, Toyota, Ford


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