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Volkswagen, Audi suspend local diesel sales

Off the lot: Cars including VW’s Golf, Polo, Passat as well as Skodas and Audis, have been suspended from retail sale in Australia.

All Volkswagens and Audis fitted with suspect EA189 engine pulled from sale

Volkswagen logo4 Oct 2015

VOLKSWAGEN Group and Audi’s Australian subsidiaries have finally taken the first local steps towards addressing the growing diesel emissions scandal, pulling affected cars from dealer’s lots.

In a short missive from head office on Saturday, Volkswagen Group Australia says it met with government officials on Friday to advise them that it would be suspending sales of cars and light-commercial vehicles fitted with the EA189 engine.

VW maintains that the suspension of sales – which includes a range of models including the Golf, Passat, CC, Tiguan and Caddy as well as the Skoda Superb and Yeti – is temporary. The company confirmed that about 1000 VGA vehicles (Volkswagen and Skoda brands) are impacted in Australia. (This number has since been revised to 77,149 VGA vehicles) “The suspension will remain until the emission issues are addressed in those vehicles. VGA will make further announcements next week,” read the statement.

In a similar statement also released on Saturday, Audi Australia said it had met with “relevant government authorities” and suspended sales of its A4, A5 and Q5 models powered by the 2.0-litre diesel unit in question “until the emission issues are addressed in those vehicles”.

The luxury brand’s German arm has issued a statement informing owners of affected cars that it would be in touch with them in the coming weeks with “information about how their cars can be retrofitted”.

Audi Australia said it will make further announcements next week “following ongoing investigations with its head office”, but added that the impacted cars are still safe for owners to drive.

This follows a statement from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on Friday, putting both Volkswagen and Audi on notice that the government regulator would pursue legal action should the emissions anomalies be discovered in locally sold cars.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement that it is prioritising the VW situation in light of potential breaches of Australian Design Rules.

“This enforcement investigation is a priority for the ACCC. We are very concerned about the potential consumer and competition detriment from this alleged conduct,” he said.

The affected VW Group products sold in Australia since 2008 are fitted with either the 1.6-litre or 2.0-litre versions of the diesel engine, which is fitted with engine management software – known as a defeat device –designed to provide a lower emissions score while under test conditions.

Both VGA and Audi Australia also maintain that all Euro 6-compliant vehicles, along with all of its petrol models, are not affected.

The only way to repair the fault, which is written into computer code in the engine’s Bosch-branded electronic control unit, is to reprogram, or reflash, the ECU.

Audi Australia general manager of corporate communications Anna Burgdorf announced last week that the company had added extra staff to its customer service centre and extended its service centre operating hours to cope with an expected increase in workload responding to enquiries from customers.

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