Beetle blow

19th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

19 May 2004 , BERLIN - Andreas Langheim bought one of the last VW Beetle cars built in Mexico before production was stopped worldwide. But despite the fine spring weather Langheim cannot take his brand new blue car out for a spin because European Union bureaucracy has declared the car unroadworthy. About 350 Germans bought the Mexican-produced Beetles from a Munich-based importer who failed to inform the buyers of the regulation. All the cars are standing idle in barns and garages. The Beetle fans are up i

19 May 2004

BERLIN - Andreas Langheim bought one of the last VW Beetle cars built in Mexico before production was stopped worldwide.

But despite the fine spring weather Langheim cannot take his brand new blue car out for a spin because European Union bureaucracy has declared the car unroadworthy.

About 350 Germans bought the Mexican-produced Beetles from a Munich-based importer who failed to inform the buyers of the regulation.

All the cars are standing idle in barns and garages. The Beetle fans are up in arms and are organizing a demonstration in the capital Berlin at the end of the month.

"The problem is the EU guideline 98/69", says 44-year-old Langheim. The rule stipulates that all new cars since 2001 carry an orange control lamp - the so-called "on-board diagnosis for engine electronics which the Beetle does not have", he says.

The control lamplights up when the catalytic converter malfunctions and cannot be installed in the Beetle. Vintage car Beetles are thus allowed to spew out emissions on German roads but not the brand-new Mexican import fitted with a catalytic converter.

The Beetle, designed by Ferdinand Porsche 70 years ago, was produced 21.5 million times and there are still some 85,000 Beetles registered in the car's birthplace - Germany. When production was stopped in Germany in the 1980s the entire production facilities were moved to Mexico.

A spokesman of the Bavarian Economics Ministry blames the Munich importer of the Beetle for the problem.

"They simply imported the car without informing themselves," he says pointing out that an exception to the EU rule is not possible for Beetle fans. The importing firm, which refuses to comment, is facing floods of lawsuits from the owners.

Germany's technical roadworthy authority (TUeV) examined one of the Mexican imports and found no problem with the car.

"The cars are technically in order," says a TUeV spokesman in Munich. "Apart from the onboard diagnosis everything is okay".

But there is still some hope. "The highest political authorities have been alerted on the issue," the TUeV spokesman said.

 

DPA

Subject: German news 

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