Franz-Josef Paefgen is emphatic -the Audi TT is a safe vehicle. Nevertheless, the Audi AG chairman said at Geneva that his biggest challenge this year is improving the TT's handling, and bettling the perception that the sports car is unsafe.
During an interview at Geneva, it was clear that the TT weighs heavily on his mind. Paefgen said he is 'doing everything to bring this winter of discontent to an end.'
'We can go into any detail you want, there is no proof so far that the car has a problem which causes accidents,' he said. But he admits there is a potential image problem: 'I have to say, it's my responsibility. We have learned a lot, and we hope customers do not lose too much trust in the brand.'
Five people have died in TT crashes in Germany since October, and Audi has been on the defensive ever since. Paefgen said he has received - and has read - 6,000 letters from TT owners regarding the car's handling.
At the moment, most of the customers are fully satisfied with Audi's initiatives, Paefgen said.
Audi has announced two initiatives to improve the car's handling and to change the perception that a mechanical problem is at fault. Audi dealers are installing a rear spoiler on the car, and making some changes to the suspension system.
The second initiative is far more complex - installing an electronic stability program, or ESP. That work will be done in a factory set up specifically for this work, Paefgen said. It will cost the TT owner in Germany DM 650.