“Customers are upset. They are upset that the brand they invested in, the brand they counted on, failed them,” he said.
“As a Volkswagen dealer I feel defrauded. I am very concerned about my employees, the people that for many, many years have worked on these cars, were proud to represent them. When they go home they are being asked simple questions: Did you know about the fraud? Did you know that they were cheating?”
Kalafer wants answers from top executives at VW headquarters in Germany. So far they have shared few details, as the company conducts an internal investigation into how more than 11 million vehicles were outfitted with defeat devices that turned on during clean air tests so diesel vehicles would appear to meet emissions standards.
Matthias Muller, the new CEO of Volkswagen, told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that only a few employees were involved in manipulating diesel engine software. Muller expects the recall of millions of VWs, including almost a half million in the U.S., to begin in January.
That’s not enough for Kalafer. He wants a face-to-face explanation from VW bigwigs.
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As he waits, more than a dozen brand new, clean diesel Volkswagens are parked at the back of his dealership. They can’t be sold until VW comes up with a way to bring those vehicles into compliance with state emissions laws.
When Kalafar looks at his unsold TDI clean diesels, he finds it ironic Volkswagen spent years preaching the virtues of clean diesel engines.
“It is turning out to be our Titanic,” he said.
It may be premature to say this scandal will sink Volkswagen. In September, the carmaker managed slightly positive sales despite an order preventing the sale of clean diesel vehicles and a barrage of negative headlines.
Still, the brand is struggling. RBC Capital’s most recent survey of consumers found 12.8 percent had a favorable view of VW in its most recent survey, down from 33 percent in May.