A long standing problem for Volkswagen in China that seems to get bigger by the day. It all started in March when Chinese car buyers started to complain about DSG gearboxes. Volkswagen said there was nothing wrong.
Buyers then went to China’s quality watchdog, the ‘General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine’, which started an investigation that is still ongoing, a recall however has not been ordered yet. Volkswagen maintains that the DSG gearboxes are fine but decided to extend warranties to “restore consumer confidence”. Read on for the latest report on this case from China’s state media:
[state media] Volkswagen Group China and its two local joint ventures announced last week that they will extend the warranty of the direct shift gearbox (DSG) to 10 years or 160,000 km to restore consumer confidence after rising numbers of complaints about the much-touted dual-clutch transmission.
Extended from the previous four years or 150,000 km, the unprecedented warranty will cover the DQ200 seven-speed and the DQ250 six-speed DSG transmissions made before the end of this year, the automaker said in a statement.
“Volkswagen regrets that the DQ200 (seven-speed) gearboxes have inconvenienced some of our Chinese consumers and pledges to take such complaints very seriously and make every effort to satisfy Chinese customers,” the company said.
More than 10 models and over 1 million vehicles are equipped with the DSG transmissions and eligible for the prolonged warranty, said Ma Jinghua, a spokeswoman at Volkswagen Group China.
“We hope to reassure our Chinese customers of the reliability and advantages of DSG, which is a new and innovative technology in the global automotive industry,” Ma said.
The company’s current popular models including the Volkswagen Golf, Magotan, Sagitar, Lavida and the Skoda Octavia all have DSG transmissions as an option. The transmission plus Volkswagen’s TSI turbocharged engine are promoted as the automaker’s “golden combination” for better fuel efficiency and power performance.
But some car owners have complained online and at the dealerships about problems – mostly with the seven-speed DSG – such as abnormal noise, excessive shift shock and flashing gear indicator that signals an emergency mode when the driver can’t shift into any gear.
Responding to the complaints, Volkswagen began free service in March at its dealerships to solve the problems by updating software. But the carmaker didn’t launch the recall that was widely expected by affected car owners.
According to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, Volkswagen explained in a notice to the national quality watchdog on March 1 that the DSG problem is not related to vehicle safety so it would not make a recall.
Ma said that “the software update still continues and it has proven to be very successful”.
Some car owners, however, complained that the problems have not been fixed and their cars have even weaker performance after the software update.
The feedback is currently under investigation, Ma said, noting that the company will “follow it case by case to ensure the satisfaction of our customers”.
On March 13, the national quality supervision administration said on its website that it met with the delegates from Volkswagen that day and urged the company to solve the DSG-related problems.
On April 11, the administration advised Volkswagen owners that encountered DSG-related troubles to submit information through email or its website to help further the investigation.
The administration reiterated that it will require Volkswagen to recall the products if they are confirmed to be flawed after the investigation.
Due to the controversy, some customers say they are now reluctant to buy Volkswagen vehicles with DSG transmissions.
Earlier this year when the joint venture FAW-Volkswagen launched its new Golf in China, people noticed that a six-speed Tiptronic gearbox supplied by Japan’s Aisin replaced the former DSG transmission on the 1.6-liter model. But the company said it’s because of the limited capacity of its dual-clutch gearboxes.
Volkswagen now imports the six-speed DSG and locally makes the seven-speed DSG in a plant in Dalian.
Analysts said that the extended warranty is just an interim measure and the public will not be satisfied until the company and the national quality supervision administration provide a clear and convincing investigation report and solutions to technical problems.
They noted that it’s important for Volkswagen to protect consumer trust in China, now its largest market worldwide, where it sold more than 2.2 million vehicles last year. [/state media]
To be continued…
I am currently driving a VW TSI 7 speed DSG car . And as a foreigner in china I find this to be a great combination for economy and performance. A chinese friend of mine also has one but is complaining to me about it. So went went for a ride. I think it is a lot to do with driving style before there are any problems. most chinese drivers don’t know how to use the gearbox right. They use D for around town slow driving, and then they decide to drive like a F1 race driver and floor it. then fell it hasn’t got any power within half a second (because it hasn’t had a chance to change down from 7th gear to 3rd) and take the foot off the gas for a second ( so then the gearbox thinks the driver has changed there mind so it changes back up to 6th) then do it again.
The dealers need to educate the buyers. if you need power in a hurry put it in S mode or drive it in manual mode.
Dealers don’t tell you anything about the cars functions when you buy it in China.
My car had one fault from new when I bought it. The Gas gauge didn’t work, so the next day I went into the dealer for service and the silly service GIRL said it is bad to open the gas tank and fix it because its a new car. So she expected us to leave it and be driving a new car and not know when it needed gas. STUPID GIRL should not be in the service department. I refused and made them order the part. that took more than 5weeks and then I had to continue caller the dealer to get them to do it.
Shanghai VW ( Yanji City, Jilin province, China) really need a new service team. hopeless.
Other than that I like the VW cars and I am planning to buy a second car as the wife likes our car now. Im not worried about the DSG, but more worried about service.
Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experiences. I completely agree Chinese car drivers need to be educated about driving DSG-cars. In fact they need to be educated about how to drive a car. Just look at taxi drivers who shift to 4th gear whenever they hit 40km/h or engage the handbrake whenever they stop, even on a completely flat road. As for service, well, they just aren’t used to. When I went to buy a Suzuki Swift with my girlfriend I asked for a test drive. The sales person and my girlfriend looked at me like I came from the moon. No test drive was made, and girlfriend bought the car.
I’ve been reading about DSG trans safety concerns but hadn’t seen an explanation of exactly what those are. With a few exceptions transmission concerns are not safety-related. Slipping, grabbing/shock, harshness, irregular up and downshift speeds are some of the more common ones, and are rarel a safety concern. But now after reading about a “flashing gear indicator light that signals an EMERGENCY MODE”, I can understand the average customer’s worry. But the bottom line is that most customers should not be sold anything but a transmission with the most simple controls, especially in China where automobile neophytes abound. On top of this the salesmen are not yet experienced or knowledgeable enough to convey operational details. Some of them still ride bicycles to work.
The above words are said with all due respect to the remarkable speed with which China has launched itself into the motoring world.
Well done China !
We want the same 10 years waranty policy in Europe also.
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Steve, Shanghai VW locates in Shanghai.