What has Volkswagen been doing to repair its online reputation?

The Diesel Gate case of Volkswagen, also known as the VW emissions scandal, has been one of the biggest online reputation crisis of the recent years. It happened two years ago after the United States Environmental Protection Agency discovered that the amounts of nitrogen oxides emitted by the TDI engines of this brand were much higher than those shown in the homologation tests. Volkswagen used a software that detected when the car was in the process of homologation to reduce pollutant emissions and thus pass the tests. There are still more than eleven million affected cars among the brands of the Volkswagen group, and therefore, this great company has been working on its online reputation.

Read also: The Volkswagen Online Reputation Challenge Just Begins, by ReputationDefender

Apparently, this company has not taken a real initiative to fix the problem. A large part of the actions that would help it to repair its damaged online reputation has been actually mandatory. At first, the company agreed to compensate its customers in the United States. Volkswagen has reached a court settlement: Giving customers the options for vehicle repair or giving the money back. The agreement was announced last year by the Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco. The agreement was conducted between US environmental authorities, consumers, and the state of California. It included substantial compensations for the consumers affected by the engine cracking. Volkswagen also pledged to create a second fund to alleviate the excessive emissions of nitrogen oxides, a product considered to be carcinogenic by health authorities.

However, while Volkswagen AG promised to distribute up to $ 10 billion to some 500,000 US vehicle owners, the nearly nine million customers in Europe would only get a one-hour visit with a dealer to repair their engines with a tube that regulates the flow of air or to receive a software update. The reason for this great disparity between the proposals came from the great differences existing in the legal and regulatory structures of both regions. Actions in Europe were constrained by factors ranging from the lack of collective lawsuits such as those in the United States to regulators who approved the repairs that turned out to be insufficient for their US counterparts.

Nevertheless, a Spanish judge forced the company to compensate the clients of that country. This did not happen without judicial disputes, though. In fact, Volkswagen’s legal representatives did not appear before a court hearing earlier this year in Madrid, which was seen as an immense scorn on the part of the German company, not only towards the Spanish authorities, but also to the clients who now have less appreciation for the Volkswagen brand and fueled hatred in the social media because of it. In Spain alone, there were more than six thousand five hundred affected. For this reason, the judges assured that this legal conflict would be solved by judicial decree and not by means of conciliations.

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In October of last year, a Spanish judge condemned this giant of the automotive industry to pay compensations. The judge forced Volkswagen Valladolid and Volkswagen Audi Spain to pay more than five thousand euros to an affected person who acquired an Audi Q5 model in 2013 for a price of fifty thousand euros in Valladolid. The owner of the vehicle demanded in the complaint that Volkswagen must deliver a vehicle of the same or higher quality, and, if not, that it must be repaired in order to compensate him for the damages suffered. This has already become a legal trend in Europe, particularly in Spain. Thousands of customers are furious, not only for the fraud committed by the Volkswagen group but for the refusal of this company to respond, unlike to the American customers.

This year another compensation was ordered. According to the ruling, Volkswagen-Audi Spain and a Salamanca dealer will have to compensate another customer for 10% of the price of their car. According to the ruling, the car brand has also been ordered to pay the costs of the legal process.

Image courtesy of BUND Bundesverband at Flickr.com

All this has forced this company to improve its image on the Internet. This year, the company president has announced the launch of a campaign together with other manufacturers in favor of diesel as a part of the solution to reduce the CO2 emissions worldwide. In the same way, Volkswagen has been repairing the damages of its bad reputation online by updating the software of 1.2, 1.6, and 2-liter diesel engines, so that they can comply with the emissions regulations. In the case of 1.6-liter engines, in addition to updating the software, VW has installed a current airflow transformer in front of the air mass sensor to direct the flow of air coming, and then improving the measurements.

This great challenge will take many years, taking into account the great crisis of online reputation that this company has gone through. The proper care of its digital image is the fundamental condition for millions of customers around the world to keep buying cars of this brand.

* Featured Image courtesy of Automobile Italia at Flickr.com

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