VW dealer association pushing for compensation as dispute goes public

18 September 2017

18 September 2017

While the Dieselgate scandal put pressure on the Volkswagen (VW) Group, souring its relationship with customers, the manufacturer’s dealer group has been the one to suffer most, being both in the frontline as consumers complain about the situation and the point of contact for vehicle recalls.

Now, the head of the VW and Audi Partner Association, Dirk Weddigen von Knapp, has spoken publically about his disappointment in how the manufacturer has handled the situation, two years after news of the scandal first broke. There is also a claim for damages from the carmaker, with the association looking at the legal route to recover costs and damages brought about by the scandal.

In an interview with German publication Der Spiegel, von Knapp comments: ′We have a scandal, and how the Group is handling it is unbelievable.’ He adds ‘[VW CEO] Mr MÜller does not speak to us,’ referring to a letter sent to the group concerning the claim for damages, which has remained unanswered after three weeks.

Highlighting the problem that dealerships are having, von Knapp states that the biggest worries are the prices of used diesels, which are going down in the country. ′Today, depending on the model, the dealer is making a loss of up to €3,000 compared to the residual value with which he had calculated the car before the diesel crisis,’ he finishes.

However, in a reply to the statement, VW comments: ′Mr. Weddigen von Knapp’s comments are irresponsible and damaging to the trade organisation, the Volkswagen Group and its brands. From our point of view, the presentation of the various topics does not correspond with the facts and publicly available information.’″‹

′We know about the challenging situation for the trade and take the feedback from our trading partners seriously. We are aware of the loss of confidence on the part of the customers and the trade, and we accept responsibility for this. It is our most important goal to counter this and to win back trust. At the same time, the current discussion about diesel driving bans has captured the entire automotive sector. 

′The brands Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Audi are in regular and constructive exchanges with all representatives of the Volkswagen Audi Partner Group. All stakeholders are working hard to develop and implement the appropriate tools and measures to deal with the challenging situation of the trade as best as possible.’

The statement suggests that VW believe residual values (RVs) to have been unaffected by the diesel scandal. However, in August, the company stated that they hoped RVs would recover, while Autovista data suggests that diesel values have underperformed petrol in the country, especially VW diesel vehicles.

VW intends to discuss contracts with all German dealers in the first quarter of 2018, according to Thomas Zhan, head of sales and marketing in Germany for VW, speaking at the IAA motor show in Frankfurt. ′This is our target and nothing has changed.’

With the views of each side being aired in the public domain, this could be an argument that will continue to escalate over the coming months.