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Volkswagen wages war on public perceptions

Helpful hindsights: Volkswagen says there are things in its past that it could have done better.

German brand Volkswagen backs its products with warranty and servicing revisions

24 Apr 2013

VOLKSWAGEN is waging war against what it claims are misguided perceptions that the brand is unreliable and plagued by high costs of ownership.

The German premium brand told GoAuto today that it has introduced a number of measures designed to turn around what it said was “bad publicity” about the VW badge.

These new measures include capped-price servicing and a longer five-year warranty covering its twin-clutch automatic transmissions.

The car-maker recently announced that it would spell out the basic cost of servicing VW-badged cars for the next six years, or 90,000 kilometres, to help buyers.

“We acknowledge that there are things we could have done better in the past,” VW communications general manager Karl Gehling said.

“Some of those have to do with the issues that were perceived with the cost of ownership, and we see that the capped-price servicing is a good way of giving buyers transparency over an extended period.

“They (the buyers) can then make their (own) assessment of the ongoing costs (of maintenance),” he said.

The car-maker also extended the warranty covering its “DSG” automatic transmissions late last year after they, too, were plagued by what the car-maker labelled as bad publicity. It has increased from three years and 100,000 kilometres of cover to five years and 150,000 kilometres.

The extended warranty also covers Volkswagen's manual gearboxes and regular autos.

“We obviously have seen a lot of negative publicity around the transmission, and we wanted to reassure customers that we are confident in the technology and that we have every faith in it,” Mr Gehling said.

“We’ve had some issues in the past and we wanted to address some of the criticism that has been leveled at us, and particularly some of the coverage that has been generated.” He said the rate of warranty claims on gearboxes was no higher than for other claims.

Bloomberg reported last week that the German brand had recalled more than 380,000 vehicles in China after a massive backlash when state media featured owners complaining about transmission faults in their cars. The problems do not affect VW-badged cars sold in Australia.

Mr Gehling said that while the introduction of fixed-price servicing would help buyers work out costs of ownership, it was also partly in response to competitors’ moves in the market.

“Obviously there’s a change in the market, and the growth in capped-price servicing across the market has become quite significant – I think most of the players in the top 10 have capped price servicing now,” he said.

“So it’s a recognition of not only a change in the market but also the need for more transparency in all areas of car ownership beyond the initial purchase price.” He said the servicing costs had also provided an opportunity for Volkswagen to help customers understand what the true costs were.

“We offer a six-year period of capped-price servicing well in excess of our (three-year, unlimited kilometre) warranty period,” Mr Gehling said.

“People get a good idea of what they can expect well beyond just the three-year offer that most companies have in the market.”

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