VW scandal hits half a dozen models sold in S'pore

More than half a dozen Volkswagen models sold in Singapore are affected by the global emissions scandal that is engulfing the German motoring giant.

Checks by The Straits Times on fuel economy data provided by the Land Transport Authority revealed that the affected models include the previous generation Volkswagen Passat 2.0TDI, Golf GTD 2.0TDI, CC 2.0TDI, Sharan 2.0TDI and Tiguan 2.0TDI.

A Volkswagen spokesman said that its 1.6-litre and 1.2-litre turbodiesel models are also affected, among a total of 10.7 million VW cars worldwide. The company is still collating information on how many cars here face problems.

There are more than 22,000 VW cars in Singapore.

Das WeltAuto - the used-car division of manufacturer-owned Volkswagen Centre Singapore - meanwhile confirmed that it had sold at least three second-hand VW Passat 2.0TDIs. These are fitted with the 2-litre turbodiesel engine that tripped up Volkswagen last week, causing the company to lose as much as 40 per cent of its value on the German stock market.

US regulators found that some diesel VWs were programmed to go on a clean mode when they are being tested for emissions.

Otherwise, the vehicles would be found to emit as much as 35 times the declared amount of pollutants.

Soon after the news broke, VW confessed that millions of vehicles worldwide were fitted with the cheating software, leading to chief executive Martin Winterkorn's swift resignation on Wednesday.

Customers in Singapore are reeling from the saga, including those who bought the popular Touran 1.6TDI, launched early last year. Then, the seven-seater qualified for $10,000 in carbon rebates because of its low CO2 emission.

Touran owner Peh Shing Huei, 40, said: "It's disappointing... because I bought the car believing that it would reduce my carbon footprint."

If the car is found to no longer qualify for the rebate, "VW should pay back the rebate, not the consumer. I didn't try to cheat the system," said Mr Peh, a writer and political consultant.

The National Environment Agency is investigating whether Volkswagen cars imported into Singapore have similar "defeat devices", said a spokesman. NEA is consulting the European regulators and will decide whether further tests are necessary.

The saga meanwhile, has raised old doubts about diesel cars.

Mr Ken Hickson, chairman of sustainability consultants Sustain Ability Showcase Asia, said: "Even the so-called clean diesels are not as clean as they should be. They emit more particulates and nitrogen oxides (than petrol cars)."

He pointed out that France, one of the biggest proponents of diesel, is now moving to ban diesel cars in Paris to combat worsening smog.

Nanyang Business School adjunct associate professor Zafar Momin believes Singapore should demand swift remedial action from VW.

He said: "In the immediate term, the authorities need to demand that VW take on the task of investigating the cars affected here and bear the responsibility of retrofitting the fixes for emissions compliance."

Elsewhere, VW sister brands Audi and Skoda said none of their cars in Singapore was fitted with the emissions-cheating software.


This article was first published on September 26, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.