Volkswagen Australia wants satisfaction

Volkswagen Golf VI 118TSI

Volkswagen Australia boss John White has admitted the brand has an issue with customer satisfaction and has vowed to improve.

Speaking to Go Auto, White explained his theories behind the company’s image problem: “Number one was the recall situation, and we’re working our way out of that. Those problems we had with those cars are going away.

“From a network development perspective I think really part of the root cause we have had is our sales went up at a very high rate over the five years to last year and the infrastructure didn’t keep up.”

In our opinion Volkswagen Australia was unfairly targetted in a campaign by Fairfax Media last year which used the death of Melissa Ryan to gain exposure for ongoing customer dissatisfaction with the brand. There was never any reasonable link between the two stories.

The Victorian Coroner found there was no evidence to suggest any mechanical or technical issue from Ryan’s car, a Mk5 Golf GTI with a 6-speed manual gearbox, contributed to her death after she was hit from behind by a B-double semi trailer.

However, while Volkswagen was rightfully cleared in that instance, its response to and handling of the poor publicity collated by Fairfax was amateur at best and woefully embarassing at worst. Most of the complaints concerned the 7-speed DSG (DQ200) gearbox and eventually VW took its head out of the sand and issued a voluntary recall, which affected almost 26,000 vehicles.

But it was too little too late and the damage to its brand was well and truly done. It will take a long time and a committed effort from all Volkswagen Australia staff to win back the trust of the wider motoring public.

“It’s not one silver bullet but there are a lot of things you need to do to improve,” White added. “I fundamentally believe that the only way that we’re going to grow to the next level is to move up in terms of customer satisfaction, because from a loyalty perspective we’re fortunate because we still have high customer loyalty, but to retain them consistently over time you need to move up.”

White has established a customer satisfaction committee with his dealerships and imported staff from China to help implement the cultural change required.

A reduction in product offerings may also ease the burden on dealerships. A decision has been made to stop selling the Up and the Eos and Scirocco are likely to be next in the firing line.

[Source: Go Auto]

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Volkswagen AG announces international recalls


Volkswagen AG issued an international recall notice on Friday which will affect over 2.6 million vehicles worldwide.

A total of three campaigns are being run:

  1. Tiguan vehicle lights (affecting approximately 800,000 vehicles)
  2. DQ200 DSG oil change (affecting approximately 1.6 million vehicles)
  3. Amarok fuel pipe (affecting approximately 240,000 vehicles)

Tiguans built between 2008–11 will have a fuse replaced to remove the possibility of a faulty fuse blowing and causing one of the two light circuits to fail.

All vehicles fitted with a DQ200 7-speed DSG which use synthetic oil will be recalled to replace the synthetic oil with mineral oil. This is to prevent “electric malfunctions” on vehicles “subject to a hot and humid climate, coupled with a high proportion of stop and go driving”.

Volkswagen Australia says it has already issued a recall covering 25,928 vehicles with DSG gearboxes built between June 2008 and September 2011. About 40% of owners affected by this recall have already had their gearbox oil changed and they will not need to return their vehicles for further attention as a result of this new recall.

Some Amarok models fitted with a 2.0 litre TDI engine can suffer from a leaking fuel pipe in the engine compartment. Volkswagen Australia will contact owners of affected vehicles and bring them in to fit a chafe protector to the affected areas.

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Victorian Coroner clears Volkswagen in Ryan case

Volkswagen Golf V GTI

On Friday Victorian Coroner Heather Spooner delivered her findings into the investigation of the death of Melissa Ryan in 2011. The case came to prominence earlier this year after a concerted campaign from Fairfax Media.

Ryan died from head injuries suffered after her car was hit from behind by a B-double semi trailer. The truck driver, Ivan Mumford, told Police at the scene: “She was in my peripheral vision; all of a sudden she had almost come to a stop in front of me. I stood on the brakes and at this time there was only about eight feet between us. I hit her, pushed her forward and then her car took off and stopped against the wire.”

Fairfax Media reported on the incident with the headline “Death prompts VW owners to speak out”. Whether by intention or otherwise the article and subsequent intense coverage from Fairfax gave the impression that Ryan’s death was linked to ongoing issues with Volkswagen models, most fitted with 7-speed DQ200 DSG transmissions and 1.4 litre TFSI engines. Ryan’s car was a 2008 Golf GTI fitted with a 6-speed manual transmission and a 2.0 litre turbo engine.

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It’s the hot weather, stupid

Volkswagen Golf VI

Volkswagen UK has felt the need to clarify a few things after being asked if they would join countries like Australia, China, Europe, Japan, New Zealand and the United States in carrying out a voluntary recall relating to the 7-speed DQ200 DSG transmission.

In short, the answer is: No!

“It is a problem that relates only to temperate countries with a high incidence of stop and start driving,” explained a VW UK spokesperson. “It requires a set of circumstances—humidity, temperature, dust and congested driving conditions—that we simply don’t see in the UK.

“We have robust systems in place to monitor potential problems and, although we have around 48,000 cars on the road equipped with DQ200 gearboxes, we haven’t seen any failures that we can attribute to this problem.”

Mechanically speaking, the specification of DQ200 transmission is the same for UK delivered cars as it is for models sold in Australia. There are country-specific software differences, though.

Volkswagen UK is at pains to point out that they have not received any complaints in line with the issues encountered in Australia. “The DSG mechatronics are programmed differently according to the country in which a vehicle will be sold,” a VW UK statement reads. “The issues recently experienced by some customers in Australia have not been repeated in the UK, nor indeed in other temperate countries.”

Volkswagen UK may very well be correct in their statement regarding the differing climate between the UK and elsewhere; we’re not suggesting it isn’t. However, prior to initiating their own voluntary recall Volkswagen Australia, too, fobbed off local complaints saying there were differences between Australia and other countries that had already issued recalls.

[Source: Autocar]

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Audi, Skoda to join Australian DSG recall

Audi A1

The news just keeps getting worse for the Volkswagen Group with word that Audi and Skoda will be joining Volkswagen Australia in the voluntary recall to remedy problems with the 7-speed DSG (DQ200) transmission.

Nothing official has yet to emerge from the PR departments of Audi or Skoda but it is understood over 6200 A1 and A3 vehicles, as well as around 1750 Octavia and Superb models will be included in the recall. As with Volkswagen, the date range for the affected vehicles falls between 2008–2011.

That takes the total number of Australian sold vehicles to be included in the voluntary recall well beyond 30,000. That’s gonna take some time to work through!

[Source: Go Auto]

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Volkswagen Australia announces voluntary recall


As expected Volkswagen has this morning announced an official recall. The announcement only covers vehicles fitted with a 7-speed DSG transmission (DQ200) built from June 2008 to September 2011. Notices will go out to affected owners from next month. There is no word yet on an official recall for diesel powered models that may be affected by injector issues. Here is Volkswagen’s statement in full:

Volkswagen Group Australia Announces Voluntary Recall

Volkswagen Group Australia today announced a voluntary recall for 25,928 vehicles fitted with 7-speed DSG gearbox (DQ200).

Vehicles affected include Golf, Jetta, Polo, Passat and Caddy and were produced between June 2008 and September 2011.

In isolated cases, an electronic malfunction in the control unit inside the gearbox mechatronics may result in a power interruption. Other important vehicle systems, such as steering and braking, along with other relevant systems, will continue to be fully functional. If, in rare cases, the car loses power while driving, the driver can remain in control to safely manoeuvre the car to a stop.

Volkswagen vehicles currently being produced and sold are not affected by this issue. Australian customers can have trust, peace of mind and confidence when purchasing a new Volkswagen vehicle.

Volkswagen Group Australia will replace the gearbox mechatronic unit on all potentially affected vehicles at no cost to the customer. At the same time, we will also update customers’ vehicles with the latest software version.

Starting from July, owners of the affected vehicles will be contacted directly by Volkswagen Group Australia about the voluntary recall.

The invitation letters to schedule appointments for inspection and replacement of affected parts will be sent out in batches to the owners according to car model, production date and the supply of the necessary parts. Owners can continue to drive their vehicles as usual before the replacement.

In Volkswagen owners are invited to call the Customer Service Centre hotline on 1800 504 076 for this and all other technical inquiries Customer satisfaction is Volkswagen’s highest priority.

UPDATE: The ACCC has published a notice regarding the Volkswagen recall (see below). Interestingly they state vehicles built between 2009–2012 are affected, which is different to Volkswagen’s own date range above.

UPDATE #2: The website has been corrected to indicate cars affected were built in 2008–2011. Other edits were made to the text relating to the defects and hazards. You can compare both notices below.

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Volkswagen Australia responds to Fairfax Media


In a not unexpected development Volkswagen has issued an official response to yesterday’s Fairfax Media article:

Volkswagen Group Australia Response to Fairfax

The coronial inquest regarding the death of Ms. Ryan is still ongoing, we will not comment on the investigation, except to say that we are cooperating fully and the assertion by Fairfax that Ms Ryan’s death appears to have been caused by sudden deceleration is incorrect. There has been no finding of this nature by the Coroner.

There is also no correlation between the inquest, and the customer reports presented in the media regarding issues with diesel engines and DSG transmissions.

The vehicle at the centre of the inquest is equipped with a petrol engine and a manual transmission. Neither of the customer’s interviewed for the story has a vehicle fitted with a DSG transmission either.

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Has your Volkswagen suddenly lost power?

Volkswagen Golf V

We alert you to a troubling article regarding the Volkswagen Golf published by Fairfax Media. Most of the issues reported on relate to Mk5 Golfs and centre around the 2011 death of 32-year-old Melissa Ryan on Melbourne’s Monash Freeway:

A coroner this week investigated the death of Ms Ryan, who was killed when a prime mover with two trailers hit her Golf from behind. The truck driver and Ms Ryan’s family believe her car dramatically and inexplicably slowed before the crash. After Fairfax’s reporting of the coronial inquest, 15 owners of Volkswagens have spoken of frightening experiences when their cars, including Golf, Passat, Polo and Eos models, suddenly lost power on highways and, in one case, a train line.

“I did not feel safe driving a car like that. It was frightening,” said Jean Lim, who was driving a 2007 Golf automatic that suddenly decelerated. VW replaced the gearbox but the issue returned. Another driver, who owned a 2008 Golf automatic, said she drove “in constant terror”. “The light comes up, the car just dies and you just pray that you’re not smashed into,” said the driver, who declined to be named.

We suggest you read the article in full. If you drive a recent model Volkswagen and have experienced similar problems we’d like to hear from you in the comments section below.

For the interests of transparency we spent over six years at the wheel of a 2006 Golf GTI (6-speed manual) and never encountered anything at all like this. The car went back to Volkswagen for three voluntary recalls, although the car was not exhibiting any of the problems covered by the recalls at the time.