It never rains, but it pours. At least that’s what Volkswagen must be thinking at the moment. The beleaguered car maker, still heavily reeling from the seismic repercussions of the emissions scandal, now has to deal with the new problem that has recently reared its ugly head: its cars have started exploding at gas stations.
If you drive a VW, don’t run for cover just yet. So far, the problem has only been reported on Volkswagens that are powered by real gas – compressed natural gas (CNG). As yet, the only vehicles to be affected have been in mainland Europe.
On Friday last week in Duderstadt, Germany, a VW Touran exploded whilst having its CNG tank refuelled. The local paper wrote, “the shock wave must have been immense…local fire-fighters found debris hundreds of metres from the blast.” Fortunately, no-one was killed or injured.
Two months ago however, the results – when a Touran blew up in a Swedish gas station – weren’t so favourable. A man was injured, and a dog killed.
The aftermath of these two explosions has been significant. Aral – the German gas station owner – recommended to its affiliates, that the sale of CNG should be halted. 24-hours later, Esso, Shell, Jet, and Total followed suit. CNG is a popular choice of fuel in Germany, with nearly 100,000 utilising the alternative to petrol. The affected motorists have had to switch to the much smaller auxiliary gasoline tanks carried by their vehicles. The majority of Germany’s CNG cars are Volkswagens.
According to Auto Motor und Sport, the affected models have been part of a massive recall of VW’s CNG cars, which had initially started before the accidents started occurring, the recalls have see all gas tanks checked and replaced if necessary. The Touran was a model that was still due to be inspected when the explosions started.
In the meantime, Volkswagen has recommended CNG motorists to avoid driving using CNG until all checks have been carried out.
This is not the first time cars with corroded CNG tanks have made the news, in 2012; Volkswagen recalled a first batch, followed by a second recall that commenced June of this year.