Dear Mr VW
I hear this morning that there is a trade surplus of cars in the UK at the moment, that the UK is a great place to be for car manufacturers; Vince has underlined that the UK "is a good business environment for the motor industry"… If this is true, and I do believe that it is, perhaps you should consider moving your production plants here?
Why? So that you can make a difference to the life of my family.
It all started with an act of God - an earthquake and a terrifying tsunami. People lost their lives, their families and their worldly possessions in the devastation that hit Japan. Only in the months that followed did the world realise that Japan is the largest source of electronics and white goods… and gearboxes. The manufacturing and distribution of key components to the rest of the world was to be severely affected the extent of the problem only gradually unfolding and the effects are still being felt. I never expected the effects to reach our family, all be it in a minor way in comparison to those directly affected, but it has...
Our own personal tsunami of heartbreak hit just under 2 years ago – ten months before the natural disaster in Japan - when my then 16 month old daughter was diagnosed with a neuromuscular condition called spinal muscular atrophy which affects all of the muscles of the body; despite being bright and independent and very, very funny, my daughter cannot walk and uses a powerchair. Her powerchair has allowed her such a level of independence. But her powerchair needs to be transported to places near and far, to museums and parks, to the houses of family and friends and to do this safely and easily we decided to use Eilidh’s DLA “getting around” money, through Motability, to purchase a WAV (wheelchair accessible vehicle). After much deliberation and cogitation and many a test drive (with lots of questions asked) we decided that a VW Caravelle was the right vehicle for us and so we ordered a black – soon to be pimped A-team style! – Caravelle before Christmas of 2011. On placing our order we knew that it would be some wait expecting up to 6 months at the longest but we were prepared to do so because we strongly believed that this was the right vehicle for our family. We understood that there was a delay on gearboxes, but a production date in April with a delivery in June seemed to be ok.
This week our Caravelle still doesn’t have a production date. Demand has exceeded production – even in these times of austerity – and employees of your company cannot tell us when our WAV will be produced, that even with a production date it could still take 16 weeks, and that is before it takes to the road to travel to the UK, before it is adapted for Snappy and before it is brought to Glasgow. This delay might not mean much to you but it means so much to us. Snappy stays home sometimes, not able to travel with us on adventures. Our bodies struggle as we manoeuvre Snappy into the car, as we try to lift Eilidh in and out of her car seat. Snappy sits unrestrained in our boot, all 120kg of her: definitely life affirming for Eilidh but deadly in a crash. Eilidh sits poorly supported in her current car seat; it’s been recommended that we change her car seat only when our WAV arrives so that we buy the best seat for Eilidh.
So, Mr VW, I know that Japan was devastated by a natural disaster of huge magnitude; I know that demand has exceed production; I know You have a Beetle problem in Mexico with delays in production at the plant because of a “large number of orders”, causing delays in supplying UK customers; but what I know that is real to me, is that our family is losing out because of our WAV is delayed. Perhaps if you produced your cars in the UK, we would have our Caravelle now and we would be off exploring this beautiful world with my family, but perhaps it wouldn't make a difference at all...