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VW logo at dealer in San Diego (California): vehicles from the group's luxury brands affected


According to a media report, thousands of Volkswagen Group cars are stuck in US ports. According to the Financial Times (“FT”), Porsche, Bentley and Audi vehicles are being held in the ports. The newspaper relies on insiders. A Volkswagen supplier found a component in the cars that violated the law against forced labor.

A spokesman for VW announced on Wednesday evening that there was a delay in the delivery of the vehicles from the ports to the dealers due to a customs matter. For individual customers this could last until the end of March. An electronic component is being replaced.

According to the newspaper, the component comes from western China. Volkswagen had no knowledge of the origin until the supplier made the Wolfsburg-based company aware of the problem. The component was purchased from an indirect supplier further down the supply chain.

According to the FT, VW informed the US authorities immediately after the origin of the part became known. The US bans the import of products made using forced labor in China's Xinjiang Uyghur region and other areas of China.

Sensitive reactions from Beijing

The activities in Xinjiang have become a problem for Volkswagen. The car manufacturer is currently in contact with its Chinese joint venture partner Saic, as a VW spokesman confirmed on Wednesday when asked by SPIEGEL. This is about “the future direction of business activities in the Xinjiang province.” “Various scenarios are currently being intensively examined.”

According to SPIEGEL information, an exit of the VW Group from Xinjiang is also a possible scenario. The spokesman did not want to comment on that. The “Süddeutsche Zeitung” quoted corporate circles on Thursday as saying: “We want to get out of there.”

However, a withdrawal is not easy, the Chinese leadership reacts sensitively to the issue. When asked about the reports about Volkswagen's withdrawal plans, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing said that German companies should not be "deceived" by the lies about the situation in Xinjiang. They would have to distinguish “the truth from the lie.”

Problematic test route

VW operates a factory and test track in the province in a joint venture with the state-owned Chinese car manufacturer Saic. The German car company has come under increasing pressure in recent days to follow BASF's lead and withdraw from Xinjiang. The chemical company announced a faster sale of its shares in two joint venture companies there last week following reports of human rights violations in its activities in Xinjiang.