Two-thirds of Germans say they still trust Volkswagen despite the emissions rigging scandal that has engulfed the carmaker, according to a survey.
Sixty-five percent of respondents in a poll conducted earlier this month thought the scandal had been exaggerated and that VW still built excellent cars, according to the management consultancy Prophet, which carried out the research.
Three quarters said they would still buy a VW car if they liked the vehicle and the price, and 63% expected the affair to be largely forgotten within a year.
Volkswagen admitted in September that it has been cheating in diesel emissions tests by using a software defeat device that made 11m cars worldwide appear less polluting under lab conditions than they were on the road.
The admission followed the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that VW diesel cars in the US emitted up to 40 times the permitted level of nitrogen oxides than allowed. Research has linked high levels of the gases to 9,500 premature deaths a year in London.
The online survey of 1,000 people, which took place two weeks after news of the scandal broke, found 91% of respondents believed other carmakers were also probably manipulating emissions tests and that VW was just the first to be found out.
Sixty percent did not expect any long-term damage to the “made in Germany” brand.
A Prophet spokesman said the company had not expected the response to be so positive for VW. “The quality of the cars is not questioned,” said Felix Stöckle. “The long-term damage to the brand could be much smaller than many observers predict today.”
After the scandal broke some predicted a severe decline in the value of the VW brand, which tends to be one of the most trusted in Germany. UK-based Brand Finance estimated that losses could reach 30%, making it worth $21bn (£13.6bn). Swiss-based Interbrand, which measures brand value differently, suggested the loss was likely to be much smaller, down 9% to $12.5bn.
Volkswagen sold more than 594,000 cars in Germany in the first six months of this year, making it the company’s second-biggest market after China, where it sold 1.74m vehicles.