Volkswagen: the company that can’t say sorry

Volkswagen’s reputation is in tatters after it deceived customers and regulators by doctoring emission test results with ‘defeat’ devices fitted to millions of cars.

As the owner of an Audi (one of the car brands owned by Volkswagen Group), I suspected that my car would also have been tampered with by this dishonest company, Sure enough, a letter dropped through my letterbox recently telling me that my car was affected by the scandal and would need to be modified.

The letter made me angry. Not just because I will have the hassle of taking my car to Slough Audi for the fraudulent device to be removed. No, what made me angry was the absence of an apology – or indeed any recognition that Audi, or Volkswagen Group, was to blame. It talked about ‘the recently highlighted emissions issue’, as if Volkswagen Group was an innocent victim. It went on to say that ‘your vehicle is affected by the issue’.

The letter was sent in the name of André Konsbruck, a director of Audi UK. Mr Konsbruck, this is not ‘an issue’. It is fraud on an industrial scale. I am amazed that you could send a letter to millions of customers about this fraud without saying sorry. Audi and Volkswagen’s reputation will never recover if you can’t grasp the simple fact that you need to apologise.

This appalling own goal is consistent with Volkswagen Group’s catastrophic handling of the crisis. The head of VW in America, Michael Horn, said the company had ‘totally screwed up’, using flippant language that suggested a careless mistake rather than deliberately defrauding millions of people.

My current Audi is my fourth. It is likely to be my last Ingolstadt made car unless VW and Audi show some contrition – and say sorry.

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