- British Audi salesmen claimed models had gone through crash tests
- Dealers told customers all models had five-star ratings in Euro NCAP
- However no tests have been performed on R8, A5, A7 and A8 models
19:37 EST, 13 May 2014
06:21 EST, 14 May 2014
German auto giant Audi made false claims about the crash testing of several of its cars, it has emerged.
Salesmen said all its models boasted five-star ratings in Euro NCAP tests.
But its R8 sports car, which costs up to £100,000, as well as its A5, A7 and A8 models, have in fact never been tested.
Untested: The R8 sports car, which costs up to £100,000, has not gone through a Euro NCAP crash test, despite salesmen claiming it has
There is no evidence that the vehicles are inherently unsafe, however the company, which is part of Volkswagen, has been accused of misleading drivers.
The issue came to light when entrepreneur Daniel Jenkins was interested in buying an Audi R8 for his sports car rental company and was told by the dealer it was safety tested to the highest standards.
Mr Jenkins said: ‘One of the main reasons for me buying the Audi R8 over its competitors was the fact Audi advised me it had a Euro NCAP rating of 5-star and it had been crash tested.’
The Euro NCAP crash test is not a legally required, but the stringent regime, which looks at how vehicles cope with a range of impacts, is considered the gold standard of motor safety.
Mr Jenkins, 25, bought the car for a rental business in 2012 and it was subsequently used in a music video featuring the singer Alexandra Burke and separately by the magician Dynamo.
False promises: British Audi salesmen have been claiming that all of the German auto giant’s models boasted five-star ratings in Euro NCAP tests (stock image)
He did not give the safety question another thought until a few months later when his father Paul, 54, was involved in a crash while taking evasive action.
Despite the fact the car was only travelling at only 45 miles per hour it was cut in half after spinning into the air and hitting a tree. Mr Jenkins’ father was in a coma for three and half weeks and in hospital for many months.
The crash, which happened on a road near the family home in Melksham, Wiltshire, prompted him to look into exactly what checks Euro NCAP had carried out on the car.
‘I visited the Euro NCAP website and became aware that the Audi R8 had never been crash tested or put through any programme with Euro NCAP. To find out that it wasn’t after being advised that it had been, I was extremely upset. Disappointed,’ he said.
He wanted to know whether this was a one-off error and so called 50 other Audi dealerships to ask about the R8’s safety testing, to check if they were issuing the same misleading information.
‘Forty-eight of them had told me directly that it had been put through the Euro NCAP programme, that it had been crash tested, and it had a 5-star rating. I was just gobsmacked,’ he said.
‘Frankly I am just disgusted that the company could be misleading people in such a serious way.’
Salesman’s lies: Other models salesmen falsely claimed had undergone the crash tests were A5, A7 (pictured) and The Audi A8
Mr Jenkins contacted BBC Watchdog who carried out their own mystery shopping exercise at 10 Audi showrooms across the country to establish if staff were in the wrong. Eight gave misinformation about NCAP tests.
Tim Shallcross, of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: ‘I find it absolutely incredible to be honest, that a company of the reputation of Audi, and their parent group, the Volkswagen Group, can allow their product to be misrepresented so badly in that way.
‘Nobody’s saying the cars aren’t safe, but if they haven’t been tested, they haven’t been tested. To say they have…that’s outrageous.’
Mr Jenkins first contacted Audi UK head office to alert them to the problem five months ago, however, Watchdog found its customer service staff are still giving out misinformation.
Audi has accepted staff were in the wrong and apologised. A spokesman said: ‘Audi UK wishes to emphasise that there has not been any deliberate intent to mislead on the part of its customer-facing staff where the Euro NCAP safety test performance of the Audi model range is concerned.
‘Significant and sustained investment in active and passive safety technology across the Audi range has resulted in safety standards that do not call for embellishment or exaggeration by our customer-facing teams.
‘Audi vehicles are engineered to exceed international motor vehicle safety standards. The company fully supports Euro NCAP’s efforts to improve vehicle safety.’
The spokesman added: ‘Audi UK accepts that this investigation has brought to light a shortfall in its communication procedures where the NCAP safety ratings of its range are concerned. We also acknowledge that we did not adequately address this shortfall when it was brought to our attention by Mr Jenkins, and on both counts we apologise unreservedly.’
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