Volkswagen unlikely to meet 2014 sales goal

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Keller admitted that the group had made ‘some mistakes’ in handling customers’ complaints and apologised for the inconvenience caused. The Edge File Photo

KUALA LUMPUR: Volkswagen Group Malaysia Sdn Bhd is unlikely to meet its goal of doubling its sales this year due to the poor handling of customers’ grouses over technical issues affecting its vehicles.

VW Group Malaysia managing director Armin Keller said the loss of customer confidence had caused the German car maker to scale back its target sales for 2014.

“It is clear we will not be able to double our sales [from last year],” he told a press conference yesterday.

“[However,] we [still] expect to maintain our current market share,” Keller said, without disclosing the revised sales target.

Keller said yesterday the 7-speed direct shift gearbox (DQ200) problem due to the mechatronic aspects of the vehicles had been resolved. Thus, he expects sales to start picking up next year as measures to regain consumer confidence continue.

Last year, VW Group Malaysia delivered 11,700 vehicles.

Keller admitted that the group had made “some mistakes” in handling customers’ complaints and apologised for the inconvenience caused.

“In these times of growth, especially over the last month, we made perhaps some mistakes in terms of communications in handling customers in the appropriate way.

“We had not enough service capacity and we definitely did not communicate in the proper way with customers. It had caused a lot of inconveniences and we apologise for that,” he said.

According to Keller, VW Group Malaysia has taken concrete steps to rectify the issue by bringing 10 master mechanics from its headquarters in Germany to conduct on-site coaching at its dealerships.

The group has increased the number of workshops and mechanics in the country by more than 30% to provide better services to customers.

On VW recalling 580,000 of its Sagitar and Beetle models in China on a defect in the rear axle arm of the vehicles, Keller said Malaysian VW owners are not affected.

Nevertheless, the group is taking precautionary measures to ensure that the 2,000-odd Beetle owners who bought vehicles from the batch produced from April 2012 to July 2013 can check their cars for free. VW will alert all its customers on the revised services available to them in the coming weeks.

It was reported last Friday that VW Group will recall 563,605 new Sagitar models worldwide produced between May 2011 and May 2014 and 17,485 imported Beetles due to a problem with the rear axle arm of the cars.

Keller said VW Malaysia is considering exporting VW vehicles from Malaysia. “Exporting out of Malaysia is definitely our interest. We are speaking to several parties on the matter,” he said.

“We target to do so next year, that is, if we can find the right pricing [strategy for our cars]. Technically, we can do it. We hope to export to Asean markets, with Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines in mind,” he added.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 21, 2014.