The Ministry of Transportation and Communications said that it would order a recall of cars manufactured by the German automaker Volkswagen if an investigation showed that the design of its direct shift gearbox (DSG) posed a threat to traffic safety.
The ministry’s Department of Highways and Railways said that it has received multiple reports from drivers of Volkswagen cars equipped with DQ-200-model or DQ250-model gearboxes that the vehicles would occasionally lose power while driving or while stationary.
In addition, DQ-200-model gearboxes were reported to have automatically switched to a “limp-home” mode when they reported faults.
Further analyses of information provided by car owners and Volkwagen’s agent in Taiwan to the Vehicle Safety Certification Center (VSCC) showed that 61 reports were related to incidents in which cars lost power while being driven.
Drivers reported 135 incidents in which DSGs switched to the limp-home mode while driving and 453 in which the cars lost power while at a stop.
Department Director-General Chen Yen-po (陳彥伯) said that the reported flaws in the gearboxes were not isolated cases, and the gearbox could pose a threat to drivers and overall road traffic safety.
Flaws were found in several Volkswagen models produced between 2006 and last year, including the Volkswagen Golf, Golf Variant, Jetta, Touran, Scirocco, Polo and Passat, he said.
Chen said that the ministry had requested Volkwagen’s agent in October last year to recall cars equipped with DSGs and make the necessary corrections.
However, the agent only recalled the cars equipped with DQ-200-model DSGs that would switch to limp-home mode when the gearboxes malfunctioned.
Because the agent did not address other issues, the ministry would have to intervene, Chen said.
The ministry is scheduled to complete an investigation of Volkwagen vehicles by the end of June, he said, adding that the results of the investigation will be made public.
If the report concludes that there are safety problems which the automaker needs to address, Chen said that the ministry will order a recall of affected vehicles.
Based on the Highway Act (公路法), the automaker would face a fine of between NT$300,000 and NT$1.5 million (between US$10,500 and US$51,700) if it chooses to ignore such an order.
The act also authorizes the ministry to continue fining the carmaker if it keeps ignoring the government’s order.
If deemed necessary, the government could also prohibit the import of Volkswagen vehicles.
Owners of Volkwagen vehicles are encouraged to report any problems or concerns related to the vehicles to VSCC by callling (04)781-2120, extensions 3127, 3124 or 7241.
The last time the ministry intervened in investigation of a car safety problem was in September 1997, when owners of Volvo vehicles were reported to have experienced unintended acceleration.
However, the ministry’s investigation, could not prove that the problem was caused by irregularities in the vehicles.