Ever since they got caught trying to scam U.S. emissions inspectors with their diesel vehicles, Volkswagen has been fighting two parallel battles. One group was working to repair the massive public relations damage done to the brand. The other was working feverishly to come up with a cost-effective “fix” for the mechanical issue that triggered the investigation in the first place.
Now, finally, VW might have an answer that the EPA will approve. According to various media reports, last week both the EPA and the California Air Resources Board okayed the fix that will help put up to 67,000 VWs and Audis back on the sales floor. That leaves more than 400,000 still outside governmental regulation standards.
Vehicles included in the approved fix are some 2015 models of the VW Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Golf, Golf SportWagen, Jetta, and Passat along with the Audi A3. These models represent some of VW’s most popular brands in the United States, however, it’s still a drop in the bucket compared to the sheer number of vehicles that were banned until a fix could be approved.
The good news for consumers is that most of the now approved vehicles – nearly 60,000 – are already owned … and their drivers are certainly ready to get them out of the garage. VW now has less than two weeks to advise the owners about the fix that can put their wheels back on the road.
But that’s not going to solve the problem. VW still has to find a fix for older vehicles that will meet with regulators’ approval. Even the current fix is little more than a delayed stopgap. VW will only “reprogram the software” immediately. This is the software designed to cheat inspections. They won’t actually install the proper filters for up to a year.
Imagine being a VW or Audi customer receiving that letter. Come on in, and we’ll “fix” your computer … oh, by the way, you have to come back several months from now, again, to get the actual fix. In the meantime, you might fail inspections. Have a nice day.
Sure, that’s a parody … but, really, this whole situation is a parody of customer service that has many VW and Audi customers vowing to never – ever – purchase one of their products again. VW needs to do more than toe the regulatory line on this. They need to bridge the gap with their reasonably disgruntled customers.