It appears that each time Volkswagen regains some of its formerly positive reputation – earlier this year it was the biggest car maker in the world, and just last week ramped up its scrappage initiative – another stumbling block comes along.
More than 1.8 million Volkswagen cars are being recalled in China due to faulty fuel pumps. The electronic defect can cause the engine to stall, and VW will replace the fuel pump control modules for free beginning in December.
As well as the huge numbers of locally-built Magotan, CC, and Passat models being recalled in China, around 19,000 imported models are also affected.
2017 has been littered with embarrassing recalls for Volkswagen, all of which have been due to small but vital issues. The company has yet to recover from 2015’s ‘dieselgate’ scandal.
Christian Stadler, a Professor of Strategic Management and a researcher of Volkswagen for his book Enduring Success, offered the following expert comment on this subject:
"It is another blow to Volkswagen's reputation. Just as people were starting to forget the 'dieselgate' scandal then this keeps that fresh in consumers' minds and keeps alive the suspicion that there might be rotten things going on at the company.
"And in one sense this is a more serious problem for Volkswagen's reputation. When you look at why people purchase a VW car the environment is not high on the list, that is one reason why dieselgate has not affected its sales too much.
"But VW has built its reputation on quality and this fuel pump recall is on the back of two recent recalls in China. The publicity may start to harm the core proposition of the company, namely quality.
"However, it is questionable whether sales will be affected by this recall. This sounds like a large recall, but in 2016 there were 50 million car recalls in the US alone.
"Recalls are almost a normal part of the car industry and as long as VW handles this properly and customers are not inconvenienced too much then there should be no long-term effects.
"Recalls are a consequence of cars becoming more and more complex, with manufacturers constantly introducing new models, without the proper time to check everything.
"China is VW's biggest market. The Government wants to reign foreign car manufacturers in and help develop Chinese manufacturers, that is why they want joint ventures, so there is a transfer of knowledge. Now the Government has a new hope in bringing in tough environmental regulations to give the homemade industry a jump start."