VW can not explain environmental objective “support fuel-efficient styles of driving”

Although officially VW environmental goal for 10 years, no person in charge can or wants to explain what is meant by “support fuel-efficient styles of driving”.

Exactly 10 years ago, Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn declared “support fuel-efficient styles of driving” to be an official VW environmental goal – as part of the then announced “Volkswagen Group Environmental Principles Products“.

Volkswagen seems to aim for unrestricted suitability for fuel-efficient driving. One would therefore expect Volkswagen vehicles to get along well with fuel-efficient driving styles. Volkswagen did acknowledge fuel-efficient styles of driving as being relevant, important, as a concept to take into account. Not like an dubious, deprecated, adventourous or plain stupid habit. So in no way the reader of “Volkswagen Group Environmental Principles Products” would conclude that the vehicles were meant to tolerate fuel-efficient driving only exceptionally.

But the manuals expose a startling paradox: While, for example, the March 2008 instructions for the Polo IV describe this as fully suitable for fuel-efficient driving styles, more up-to-date operating instructions contain hidden warnings of fuel-efficient driving. This runs through the models and vintages. It concerns, for example, the VW Polo V (05/2014), the VW Sharan II (11/2015), the VW Golf VII (11/2017) and the VW Polo VI (07/2018). The warnings suggest that fuel-efficient driving can lead to rotten brakes.

A Sustainability Reporting officer speculated to me by phone that “supporting fuel-efficient driving” could also signify to encourage fuel-efficient driving without the products having to be designed to sustain fuel-efficient driving habits.

This person in charge has done his best to clarify the significance of the environmental objective and to answer the following questions:

  • Can you please clarify the environmental objective of “supporting fuel-efficient driving”? Are VW products suitable for fuel-efficient driving styles or should they be in the future?
  • Could you please work towards ensuring that the achievement of this goal is monitored in the future and documented in the sustainability reports?
  • Could you please clarify the legal assessment in the sense of §3 ProdHaftG? Does VW consider a fuel-efficient driving style as a use of VW products that can reasonably be expected?

But instead of answering these questions, the request was delegated down by VW in the customer care area. The customer care staff apparently can not even distinguish brake wear and brake corrosion from each other. The final statement from the Customer Care department refuses answers to all the questions above.

Volkswagens final statement of 30.11.2018 was preceded by a 6-month lead with some phone calls and countless emails, which ultimately remained largely fruitless. Conclusion by 30.11.2018 is therefore: VW can not or does not want to explain its own environmental goals.

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