The automotive industry has always made sure that test cars don’t make their way to consumers. These pre-production cars, which are not safety-tested or ready for the road, are typically retained by the factory and crushed. However, according to a report on Autoblog.com, it appears that German automaker Volkswagen has been bending these rules and actually sold 6,700 test vehicles in the United States and Europe.
Unsafe Vehicles Sold
These pre-production vehicles were made to “test and showcase” new models before official series production and they were not authorized to be on the road. But, as it turns out, Volkswagen sold them as “used car.” About 4,000 of these cars were sold in Germany from 2006 to 2018, which means this practice went on until recently.
Der Spiegel reported that the Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Deiss knew about this practice in 2016, but it took a long time for it to stop. The cars have now been recalled, with VW citing safety concerns. Some of these vehicles can differ from series production cars significantly making them more difficult to maintain in the long run.
Der Spiegel also says that as many as 17,000 Volkswagen test cars were sold to customers, but VW only confirmed 6,700 as the number of cars that were recalled. German authorities are still deciding how to handle this violation. It is likely that the automaker will face thousands of dollars in fines for each affected car. It is not clear if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is taking any action regarding the test cars that were sold in the United States.
Auto Product Liability Issues
While VW officials have reportedly called this a big mistake, it doesn’t take away from the fact that thousands of these vehicles are on the road, potentially putting consumers in harm’s way. Test vehicles don’t undergo the rigorous safety testing production vehicles do because they are not meant to be on the road. This is why automakers destroy them once their purpose has been served.
It is unclear as to whether any of these vehicles have caused serious injuries to consumers. We don’t have those numbers yet. We hope NHTSA investigates this issue further and holds VW accountable for this illicit and unethical practice that has put consumers in danger. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of these dangerous and defective vehicles, please contact an experienced auto defect lawyer who can give you more information about pursuing your legal rights.