What Car? survey reveals extent of Volkswagen's dieselgate reputational damage

A survey of What Car? Autocar and Pistonheads readers has evaluated the damage to the Volkswagen Group’s reputation which has been incurred by the ‘dieselgate’ scandal...

What Car? survey reveals extent of Volkswagen's dieselgate reputational damage

Our most recent monthly survey has revealed the extent of the Volkswagen scandal upon 4000 What Car?, Autocar and Pistonheads readers.

The survey began one week after the scandal broke, with varying questions asked of the readers, relating to different elements of the scandal, including the trustworthiness of the Volkswagen Group both before and after the scandal, their likelihood to consider a diesel car, and their likelihood to consider a Volkswagen.

While only 5% of owners would consider the manufacturer of their main car either ‘untrustworthy or very untrustworthy’, more than 25% of respondents reported one or more incidents that damaged their trust in their main vehicle’s brand, with a little more than 18% quoting one single incident or experience.

Compelling figures emerged when buyers were asked about their willingness to buy Volkswagen cars, in which 17% of those surveyed turned away from choosing VW, while those who chose unlikely or very unlikely rose to 44%. This dramatic change in attitudes towards Volkswagen cars demonstrates the damage that the scandal has inflicted upon Volkswagen’s reputation, in real-world figures from automotive industry stakeholders.

A more industry-wide effect of the scandal has been changing attitudes to diesels. Of those surveyed, those either likely or very likely to buy a diesel car of any make dropped from 58% to 43% after the scandal, with the ‘very unlikely’ category rising from 18.4% to 24%. The remainder of the industry responded to this almost instantly, with the expected spike in interest in hybrids and electric vehicles bolstered by multiple announcements of future electrified vehicles from multiple sectors of the market.

These figures are bound to change as Volkswagen’s response to the scandal alters the public perception of trustworthiness of Volkswagen Group products, and the wider industry scrabbles to make a gain out of Volkswagen’s losses.

Read more about the Volkswagen emissions scandal

By Jimi Beckwith