VW Australia says 97,000 cars affected by emissions scandal

Australian arm of global carmaker seeks to get out ahead of the issue quickly with online tool to help affected consumers and regular updates

VW Australia originally said 91,000 vehicles were affected (Flyz1/Wikimedia Commons)
VW Australia originally said 91,000 vehicles were affected (Flyz1/Wikimedia Commons)

The long arm of the Volkswagen scandal reached Asia-Pacific this week as the company’s Australian unit announced that more than 97,000 cars have been fitted with the emissions-cheating technology that has sent shockwaves across the globe.

Keen to remain transparent, VW Australia issued an updated press release today revising the number of VW passenger cars affected by a further 6,444. On Wednesday it announced its first figures on the number of cars involved.

That takes the total number of affected passenger cars to 61,189, along with 17,256 commercial vehicles and 5,148 Skoda cars, a subsidiary of VW. Audi, another unit of VW, said 14,028 of its vehicles in Australia are fitted with the faulty technology.

VW Australia also today announced a voluntary recall for all affected vehicles.

Beginning its original statement somewhat optimistically by telling consumers they "may be aware" of the emissions crisis that has affected 11 million vehicles worldwide and seen VW axe top-level executives, Volkswagen Australia follows by saying it "deeply regrets" the problem and is working hard to fix it.

John White, Volkswagen Australia’s managing director, said: "Volkswagen Group Australia takes this issue extremely seriously and is continuing to gather all the facts from our head office to support any rectification plans in Australia.

"We understand the disappointment and frustration felt by our customers, dealers and partners in Australia and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. We are doing everything possible to fix the problem and will be making further announcements in the near future." 

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To that end, VW Australia has released an online tool that consumers can enter their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) into and check whether their vehicle is affected.

Charles Lankester, Ruder Finn’s senior vice president of reputation management in APAC, says VW Australia appear to have managed the news "calmly, professionally and well" by issuing a "low key, but contrite, statement" with "crisp, practical advice".

"VW Australia, I would imagine, have been drawing up plans for their market from the moment the emissions issue became visible and their response appears to be solid and practical," he told PRWeek. "They also have the advantage that they can claim ‘it wasn’t us’ who caused the problem – but we are the people who will fix it for our customers."

Lankester added that of particular interest could be VW’s new sales performance in Australia and globally.

"Yes, this is a global scandal. But VW makes decent vehicles and has shown itself to be a responsible company. It will be interesting to see what happens to sales in Q4 2015 and 2016. We might all be surprised." 

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