The facts are still coming in, but according to a BBC News article posted yesterday, it appears that at least four different Audi models found throughout the UK have been touted as receiving high safety marks without actually having been tested. Whether this is an outright lie by the popular car manufacturer or a series of fibs being told by the independent retailers selling them, the fact remains that a lot of customers have been duped.
This of course isn’t to say that Audis aren’t safe vehicles–they consistently get high ratings from safety boards around the world–but in the United Kingdom right now, someone has been bending the truth and it’s outraging consumers.
And rightfully so.
Audi’s Fictional Safety Tests
The models in question are the Audi A5, A7, A8 and R8, and according to Daniel Jenkins, who owns a car rental company, the problem has been going on for awhile now.
It all began in December of 2012 when he bought an Audi R8. His father was driving it when he got into an accident. And even though the accident didn’t appear to be caused by the R8 itself, it inspired Jenkins to take a closer look at the vehicle’s safety ratings. The dealership he bought it from told Jenkins the R8 speedster has earned a five stars from the Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme). Which was not true–it hadn’t been tested at all.
Jenkins then proceeded to call 50 different dealerships in the region, 48 of whom falsely claimed the car received a 5-star Euro NCAP rating.
Then he took his story to Watchdog and the BBC and it became clear that not just the R8 was being lied about. It was far more widespread than that.
According to the BBC article, an Audi spokesperson responded to the allegations with: “Audi UK wishes to emphasize that there has not been any deliberate intent to mislead on the part of its customer-facing staff…”
But we all know where the intention-paved road goes.
The bottom line is that lies have been told and cars have been sold. Now, Audis are typically very safe cars made from innovative designs and high-quality parts. But that’s not really the point. The point is that misleading consumers on a safety test (even one like the NCAP, which isn’t mandatory) is definitely not a best practice. It’s misleading and potentially dangerous.
How Does this Impact Audi Sales in the Rest of the World?
Since the story is still developing, it’s impossible to say how much (or even if) this safety test scandal will affect Audi car sales, but in all honesty, it probably won’t.
What it should affect, though, is consumer awareness.
Perhaps it’s time to stop taking test ratings for granted. If safety is a major factor in your car purchasing choice, it’s time to read between the lines and dig for the truth.
As always with such a high-end purchase, you must do your research. Don’t take things at face value–put in the time and effort to make sure you’re getting what you paid for.
This NCAP ordeal might not be Audi’s fault–we’re not going to dive into blind conjecture here–but the truth remains that a lie was advertised. Which just goes to show that you really can’t believe everything you see.