Dirty VW diesel models still on sale at Canadian dealerships
Volkswagen vehicles spewing illegal amounts of pollution remain on sale at Canadian dealerships, which continue to advertise affected diesel models despite a ban issued by the German automaker as it grapples with a deepening emissions scandal.
As of Thursday, advertisements for TDI 2.0 diesel-engine models that contained so-called “defeat devices” designed to cheat environmental tests were still on Canadian auto websites.
A spokesperson for Volkswagen said it was “highly likely” the ads remained posted by accident.
“Our sales reporting system will not allow for the sale of affected [certified pre-owned] vehicles,” VW Canada spokesperson Thomas Tetzlaff said.
“We can still sell, but it’s a conditional deal,” said a sales associate at a Toronto-area Volkswagen dealership selling a certified pre-owned 2013 2.0 TDI Jetta.
Customers can purchase the vehicle, said the associate, who asked his name be withheld, but the dealership isn’t allowed to hand the owners the keys.
“Until Volkswagen head office says we can release it to a customer, we can’t deliver,” the sales associate said. “We’re not allowed.”
A separate Volkswagen dealership in the Toronto area was selling affected models, but an online ad for the vehicle – a 2014 certified pre-owned Jetta – contained a lengthy disclaimer.
“This vehicle is subject to Environment Canada’s investigation into the installation of emissions test defeat devices. Model Year 2009-2015 light duty vehicles equipped with 2.0 litre diesel engines have been found in other jurisdictions not to conform in all material respects with comparable requirements to those of Canada,” the disclaimer said.
“At the time of sale, the investigation in Canada is ongoing.”
The dealership “makes no representations or warranties that any emission marks appended to this vehicle comply with Environment Canada requirements, and makes no representation that this vehicle complies with Environment Canada restrictions against the use of defeat devices.”
The dealer said it did not know of the “performance consequences if and when a recall repairing above issue is executed.”
Volkswagen owners in Canada will likely have to wait several months — at least — before their vehicles are repaired.
Volkswagen said Wednesday it will likely commence in January a massive global recall to replace software and or equipment in several diesel models, tens of thousands of which have been sold in Canada since 2009.
VW Canada’s Tetzlaff said there was no timetable yet for a Canadian recall.
Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen said last month, as the scandal was first coming to light, the number of vehicles containing the EA 189 diesel engine and corresponding technology designed to cheat emissions tests topped 11 million worldwide.
Volkwagen issued a stop-sale order for new and certified pre-owned vehicles on Sept. 21, a halt that contributed to a sharp drop in monthly sales figures for the month.
Customers continue to be interested in diesel models, the sales associate at the Toronto dealership said, but their willingness to buy a car they can’t drive off the lot is quickly sapped once they learn they can’t take delivery.
“When I tell customers that, they’re like, ‘Ok, we’ll come back later,’” the associate said.
The Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC), the regulatory body that monitors dealership sales on behalf of that province’s government, said it didn’t have the authority to halt sales of the non-compliant vehicles.
“OMVIC does not condone any dealer selling vehicles in breach of a stop sale order,” Terry O’Keefe, a spokesperson, said. “However, we do not have jurisdiction to enforce a vehicle manufacturer’s stop sale order, nor do we regulate vehicle manufacturers.”
The OMVIC, which is mandated to prosecute non-compliance and illegal sales, has been the dealership industry’s self-regulating body since 1997.
— With files from Sean O’Shea, Global Toronto
WATCH: US Volkswagen chief Michael Horn said emission-rigging of diesel models was not a corporate decision but the actions of software engineers.