Reports of transmission problems in cars manufactured by German automaker Volkswagen were not “isolated cases,” the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said over the weekend, adding that the results of a probe are scheduled to be released in June.
The ministry said it had received multiple complaints since last year from drivers of Volkswagen cars equipped with DQ-200-model or DQ250-model direct shift gearboxes (DSG), who said the vehicles would occasionally lose power while driving or while stationary, or that they would automatically switch to the “limp-home” mode while driving.
Limp-home mode is a default setting where a car’s computer takes over the control calibrations of the engine when a serious problem is detecting. During limp-home mode, the car produces less power than normal.
The Vehicle Safety Certification Center reviewed the information provided by car owners and Volkwagens’ agent in Taiwan and found that 61 cases were related to incidents in which cars lost power while being driven.
Meanwhile, 135 cases were related to the automatic switch of DSGs to limp-home mode and 453 others were about cars losing power while stopped.
Both the center and the ministry had convened several rounds of expert meetings to analyze the cases. After determining that the DSG problems were not isolated cases and could pose a threat to drivers’ safety, the ministry requested the Volkswagen agent in October last year to recall the cars with flawed DSGs produced between 2006 and last year.
However, the agent only recalled the cars equipped with DQ-200-model DSGs that would switch to limp-home mode when the gearboxes malfunctioned and did not address other issues, forcing the ministry to launch a comprehensive investigation in January last year.
The ministry said that the center has received about a thousand more reports about problems with Volkswagen cars, but the center is still examining if they are all caused by faulty DSGs.
The ministry said that the car manufacturer would be ordered to recall all the affected vehicles if the investigation concludes that there are safety problems which the automaker needs to address.
Based on the Highway Act (公路法), the automaker could be fined between NT$300,000 (US$10,000) and NT$1.5 million if it chooses to ignore such an order. The agent said that it would actively recall the affected cars as long as it is deemed necessary, adding that it respected the ministry’s right to investigate.
However, the agent said that differences of opinions exist between the ministry and itself on the problems with DSGs and whether they are a safety concern.