Volkswagen Sold Test Cars to the Public For More Than a Decade Instead of Scrapping Them [News]

VW has instigated a recall for at least 6,700 affected cars

Volkswagen Sold Thousands of Test Cars to the Public Instead of Scrapping Them [News]
Volkswagen sold unapproved test cars to the general public in Europe and the U.S., according to recent reports. [Photo: Volkswagen]

Another scandal emerged at VW, where management was already tarnished from the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal.

German news site Handelsblatt reports that Volkswagen, one of the world’s largest automakers, sold test vehicles to European and U.S. customers for more than a decade. Between 2006 and 2018, the company reportedly sold 6,700 pre-production units, a VW spokesperson said. Of those cars, about 4,000 were sold in Germany, while the rest were sold throughout Europe and North America. However, VW internal documents reportedly peg the number closer to 17,000 vehicles.

When manufacturers build these test cars to showcase new models, they’re supposed to scrap the cars. Instead, they reportedly sold them as new or used cars. However, European transport authorities never approved those cars for sale. As Handelsblatt puts it, only “ones produced in series”, or cars finalized for mainstream production, are allowed. Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess was informed of the issue in 2016, according to German magazine Der Spiegel. Yet it took until now, in 2018, for Volkswagen to notify its customers that their cars were sold without proper approval. Only Volkswagen cars were sold to customers: neither Porsche nor Audi test models made it to consumers.

2018 Volkswagen Passat R-Line
According to reports, some 17,000 test cars were sold to consumers. [Photo: Volkswagen]

Safety issue

While media outlets point out these cars may have faults that make them unsuitable for production, Volkswagen claims no knowledge of any accidents tied to the models. Some only need software updates to match their road-going counterparts. However, some are so different they should have been scrapped. To not do so does represent a major safety issue, which VW also acknowledged.

Volkswagen is already instigating a recall on these models. From there, the German Transport Ministry is deciding whether to hit the company with more fines for this latest offense. As with Dieselgate, VW may face more lawsuits from consumers. By inadvertently buying a test model, they bought cars which didn’t meet criteria Volkswagen promised in their production models. According to the Handelsblatt report, VW added the cars could have been legally sold had they received the company documented how the cars were different from their production models.

Klaus Müller, head of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV), called this another “failure on the part of management.” He went further: “The fact that these are VW models built between 2006 and 2018 shows…that Volkswagen has not understood anything, even three years after the diesel scandal became known.”