And it didn't stop until earlier this year.
Volkswagen has been working hard to overcome the negative reputation it earned thanks to Dieselgate. Major executives have been replaced and its once acclaimed diesel technology is being replaced by electric vehicles. However, there’s more bad news for the German automaker. According to Autoblog and German publication Handelsblatt, VW sold around 6,700 test vehicles in the US and Europe that should have been scrapped because they were not authorized for road use. These so-called “test and showcase” vehicles ended up being sold as used cars.
A total of 4,000 were sold in Germany beginning in 2006 until 2018. We still don’t know exactly how many were sold in the rest of Europe and the US. The problem with pre-production vehicles is that they often lack necessary changes, including safety systems, found in their production version counterparts.
Often times at auto shows you see pre-production vehicles that look identical to production cars. And here’s an equally disturbing fact: VW CEO Herbert Diess was made aware of this practice in mid-2016 and didn’t put a stop to it until earlier this year. The cars have now been recalled for safety concerns. Also disturbing is the fact that some of the sold pre-production cars lack clear documentation regarding specific differences from series production. Was VW’s decision to sell these cars purely an administration mistake or outright greed? VW claims it was a mistake, but we can't be so sure just yet. How come? Well, Der Spiegel is also claiming that as many as 17,000 VW test cars were sold to customers, nearly triple VW’s figure.
We still don’t know which models are affected, but all of them are Volkswagens, not Audis or any other VW Group brand. German authorities are now investigating the matter and working out how to handle VW. Should the company face fines? Prosecution? Chances are we’ll be learning more about this latest VW debacle in the days and weeks ahead.