Following Switzerland’s ban on sales of some Volkswagen diesel models over the emissions scandal, action is being taken in Belgium too.
A major importing firm, D’Ieteren, has suspended sales of cars whose engines are considered susceptible to manipulation. Reports say 3,200 vehicles are affected.
It’s thought half a million cars have the type of engine that allows tampering.
The government says the brands involved are Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and Seat.
Economy Minister Kris Peeters told Het Laatste Nieuws that half a million cars were “suspicious”.
“There’s definitely a problem, in Belgium as well. We think there’s a maximum of 500,000 cars that were sold in Belgium. The exact number isn’t clear, because it’s not known how how many of them have the software,” he said.
European officials including the Commission’s vice-president say EU laws could be changed to introduce tougher emissions tests in the wake of the Volkswagen rigging scandal.
While Volkswagen is being urged to be totally transparent, its reputation at stake.
“Volkswagen is still a very important brand. I do not think that this scandal will affect many buyers,” said one man in Rome, questioned about the scandal.
“Germans have taught us a lot, and they still teach us. They are the best,” said another man, before adding mischievously: “The best thieves!”
Switzerland’s temporary move comes in the wake of the emission tests scandal and could affect 180,000 cars not yet sold or registered in the country.
The ban does not apply to vehicles already on the road or cars with Euro6 emission category engines.
New Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller said his most urgent task is to win back trust.
“Acting carefully is more important than acting quickly,” said Mueller. “It’s imperative that this kind of thing can never happen again at Volkswagen which is why the group is going to enforce even stricter standards of compliance and governance. That is my commitment.”
Meanwhile regulators and prosecutors around the world are investigating the issue while investors and customers are launching lawsuits.
“Well it’s incredibly damaging,” said :Robert Haigh, Marketing and Communications Director, Brand Finance. “The sheer scale of it and the deliberate nature means it will really have a very significant impact on VW’s brand. The damage done already could amount to 10 billion dollars wiped off its intangible value.”
Volkswagen said 11 million vehicles worldwide were fitted with cheating software.
Customers and motor dealers are furious because they say Volkswagen has yet to specify which vehicles models and years of manufacture are affected, and whether cars are going to be recalled for refits.