Audi dealers exposed over false safety claimsJune 2014
The Audi car manufacturer and many of its dealers have been exposed making false safety claims.
Nine out of 10 Audi dealers around Britain were found by under-cover BBC researchers to be assuring customers that the A5 model had passed a tough European safety test.
The Euro new car assessment programme (NCAP), funded by governments and motoring bodies, is widely regarded as offering the safety gold standard, though it has no regulatory or legislative powers.
The Audi A5, A7, A8 and R8 do not undergo that test. However, Audi told a buyer that the R8 had received the qualification. Altogether 48 out of 50 dealers subsequently confirmed to him that the car had been given a five-star Euro NCAP rating.
The customer, Daniel Jenkins, a car rental business owner from Melksham, Wiltshire, bought an R8 supercar after being told it had the rating.
He made his own checks when his father was involved in an accident while the driving the car. He was told by most dealers that Audis had the five-star stamp – but he then discovered from the testing organisation that this was untrue.
Last December Jenkins reported the misrepresentations to Audi’s head office, which promised his allegations were being taken seriously. Yet five months later the BBC Watchdog programme found the company’s customer service staff were still giving out wrong information.
Tim Shallcross, head of technical policy at the UK’s Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “I find it incredible … that a company of the reputation of Audi, and their parent group, the Volkswagen Group, can allow their product to be misrepresented so badly in that way.
“Nobody’s saying the cars aren’t safe, but if they haven’t been tested … to say that they have, that’s outrageous.”
Audi responded: “Audi UK wishes to emphasise that there has not been any deliberate intent to mislead on the part of its customer-facing staff where the Euro NCAP safety test performance of the Audi model range is concerned.
“Audi vehicles are engineered to exceed international motor vehicle safety standards. The company fully supports Euro NCAP’s efforts to improve vehicle safety.
“We are now aware that our sales and customer service staff must be more conversant with the Euro NCAP safety test register.
“We have already begun a comprehensive and far-reaching review of all our communications and training procedures to ensure accuracy of information on test data provided to our customers.”
Aled Williams, Euro NCAP’s programme manager, said: “All we can do is to speak to Audi at a high level and try to encourage them to make sure that the dealers are better informed and better trained.”
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