IRVINE, Calif. and ATLANTA — More than half of consumers on Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader’s websites said they have “complete” or “general mistrust” (53%) of Volkswagen, according to a recent survey conducted by the companies. And 72% of those consumers said they believe VW’s diesel emissions issues could spread to other manufacturers.
Thirty percent of respondents to the survey also said they would be less likely to consider a diesel vehicle since news broke that VW had used a software algorithm in its four-cylinder diesels to circumvent federal emissions standards.
“Volkswagen can fix the mechanical problems and make reparations to owners, but winning back the confidence of shoppers and loyal buyers will be a daunting challenge that could take years to overcome,” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for Autotrader. “Every automaker should take note of the importance of integrity.”
Sixty-four percent of consumers surveyed were aware of the diesel emissions issue, and 96% of those knew that VW was the primary manufacturer involved. The most troubling aspect for those consumers was the “intentional deceit” behind the issue (63%) and 42% felt other automobile manufacturers also are secretly violating EPA emission rules. More than half (58%) weren’t sure if VW was taking proper action to address the violations.
“Automotive consumers are well aware of the diesel emissions issue, and they have Volkswagen squarely in their sights as the manufacturer at fault; as a result, the company’s brand image is taking a hit,” said Rick Wainschel, vice president of customer analytics and insights for Kelley Blue Book. “If this issue spreads, which consumers see as entirely plausible, other manufacturers — and diesel vehicles in general — also could be affected.”
Kelley Blue Book saw a 79% increase in TDI trade-in value lookups for VW vehicles week-over-week since the scandal broke, as well as a 10% increase in VW total trade-in value lookups. VW TDI research has increased 13% for new cars, and increased 16% for used cars, and VW total research has increased 15% for new cars, but decreased 12% for used cars.
“During the last week since news broke of the emissions crisis, traffic to both KBB.com and Autotrader.com has generally increased for Volkswagen, particularly for the diesel models, but at this point it is hard to determine the mindset and intentions of precisely what these early surges in activity represent,” Wainschel said. “The increased level of trade-in activity on KBB.com and private seller activity for Autotrader appear to show that consumers are curious to see if values of these models have dropped, and demonstrate they may have some level of concern on this aspect of the emissions issue. At the very least, it indicates that consumers are hungry for information about values.”
Over on Autotrader’s site, VW shopping for diesel increased 7% and total VW shopping was down 1%. VW private seller activity for diesel was up 19%, while total VW private seller activity was up 1%.
“This announcement impacts the diesel vehicles from Volkswagen, which carry higher residual values than their equivalent gasoline counterparts,” said Eric Ibara, director of residual values for Kelley Blue Book. “While early readings suggest that TDI vehicles are being affected by the news, it is possible that they could return to normal levels within a year. This will depend on how Volkswagen handles this crisis and what they announce the fix will be for the U.S. market.”