Volkswagen's MD Paul Willis has revealed that the VW Group (UK) has received nearly 17,000 complaints in recent months about its dieselgate technical solution.
The so-called ‘emissions fix’ to reduce NOx emissions is being rolled out across Europe amid the ‘dieselgate’ scandal, but owners have been plagued with breakdowns and poor vehicle performance after the update has been carried out, according to the Volkswagen Diesel Customer Forum (DCF).
Following a request from Lilian Greenwood MP, the Transport Committee chair, Willis (pictured) admitted that VW Group UK's customer service unit has received over 16,900 complaints from owners whose vehicles have had the emissions fix installed.
Complaints include reduced MPG, broken exhaust gas recirculation valves and clogged diesel particulate filters, which they believe have occured since the technical measures.
This is despite claims on the company website stating that the software update “cannot cause any damage your vehicle”.
The DCF reports that, “owners have been voicing their scepticism at the claim for months after a series of identical technical issues blighted thousands of cars across the VW Group brands.”
But claims that the VW group continues to deny any link. It also accuses Paul Willis of refusing to provide either an explanation for the technical problems that are arising after the fix or proof that they are unrelated to the fix.
In his letter to Greenwood, Willis argues that the claims made against the technical fix are minimal, it reads: "It is important to bear in mind that the technical measures have been implemented in over six million vehicles across Europe amd om pver 819,000 vehicles in the UK. The vast majority of customers have been satisfied with the technical measures."
Willis repeatedly quotes that the German KBA tested the fix, but as one anonymous owner from the Volkswagen Diesel Customer Forum, a Facebook support group that has seen its membership swell to over 6,600 members, notes: “There is no proof that the KBA did long-term, on-road testing on higher mileage vehicles to disprove the link to the breakdowns, meanwhile cars are breaking down driving off the garage forecourt straight after the fix”.
“There are clearly problems with the fix as VW is now rolling out updated versions of the software, which only highlights that things were not right from the start.”
The Diesel Customer Forum is now pointing fingers at VW Group dealers who it accuses of not providing customers with accurate information up-front about the fix.
A recent poll of over forum 230 members identified that none were advised by their dealer that the fix would cause more soot to be generated or that the diesel particulate filter would need to regenerate more, otherwise it would light up DPF warnings on the dashboard.
DCF said some dealers have privately said to forum members that they were not told by VW Group what the fix will do to cars, and are now trying to explain the breakdowns.
DCF founder Gareth Pritchard said: “Worryingly for owners is that, so far 820,000 cars have had the emissions software update in the UK yet not one owner has had it explained to them what the fix does to our cars.
“It’s very easy in those circumstances for VW to deny there is an issue when won’t tell us what has been changed or how our cars should be operating.
“We know there are a lot of angry owners experiencing identical issues and VW won’t explain what is going on.
"I suspect the 17,000 complaints is underestimating the scale of the issue as not everyone will feel compelled to write.
“Volkswagen Group states that in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal ‘every single customer is important to us. If that’s true, then VW needs to be more open and honest.
“We need to know what’s been done to our cars, dealers need to get their facts straight and VW needs to find a cure for the problems. If the fix is as good as VW claims, then not a single complaint would have been raised.”