Volkswagen has been feeling the heat from China’s state-owned Chinese Central Television (CCTV) broadcasting network. In March, the network, which reaches over one billion people through its 45+ channels, alleged that VW overlooked dangerous fuel leaks in several of its vehicles, according to Reuters.
CCTV ran an exposé on the service departments of VW dealerships claiming they willfully ignored numerous complaints of fuel pooling in the engine tray. The network’s report claims that leaky vehicles were found in eight Chinese provinces, including mega cities like Shanghai and Beijing. It pointed both the Tiguan and the Magotan sedan (aka the PQ46-based B7/last-gen Passat; the North American Passat sedan “NMS” sedan is sold alongside this model as the New Passat).
While there is little doubt that this type of report run in the U.S. could damage an automaker’s reputation, such a report can be far more crushing when its broadcast by the state in a country that is both the most populated place on the planet and the world’s largest car market.
“We are aware of media reports regarding an engine oil issue,” Volkswagen spokeswoman Larissa Braun told the news agency in an email. “We take such reports very seriously and have already launched an investigation into the matter.”
To make matters worse, VW was also lambasted on CCTV’s annual consumer rights day, which airs every year on March 15th. This year’s report chastised Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and VW for overselling parts and services customers didn’t need. Two years ago, the network ran another story that claimed faulty VW transmissions were causing vehicles to speed up and slow down. This report led to a recall.
Volkswagen has been performing very well in the Chinese market, with its vehicles being at the top of the sales charts, while its Audi brand has famously enjoyed being a very popular luxury brand. We’d be curious to see if these reports, or any potential recalls associated with them, have the ability to slow down the German automaker.