In December 2019, a Volkswagen Passat utterly failed a crash test by the Chinese insurance industry body. VW responded by re-engineering the model to be safer, but the model's sales have plummeted in the wake of the controversy.
The Passat passed the C-NCAP test by the Chinese government, but CIRI Auto Technology Institute has a more stringent evaluation regime. This included a small overlap crash that subjected 25 percent of the vehicle's front against an obstacle. In comparison, the C-NCAP overlap test uses 40 percent of the nose in the impact.
Gallery: 2022 Volkwagen Passat Limited Edition
As the video above shows, the Passat's A-pillar folded like laundry in the crash. The dummy's head barely touched the airbag, and instead, the person's face slammed into the dashboard. CIRI gave the VW a Poor rating for clear reasons.
According to Reuters, there was a massive public backlash against VW in China, and the company responded by sending engineers to its SAIC-Volkswagen joint venture to figure out a way to fix the Passat. They figured out the sedan needed extra material at the front that was going to add about 400 yuan ($62) per vehicle.
VW introduced the tweaked Passat in mid-2020. When CIRI re-tested it, the model passed the small overlap crash test.
However, buyers in China haven't been quick to return to the Passat. In 2020, VW-SAIC saw sales of the sedan drop 32 percent. Even taking COVID-19 into account, overall vehicle deliveries dropped 6.8 percent in China last year, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, the Passat is getting the axe in the US after the 2022 model year. VW is sending it off in America with 1,973 examples of a Limited Edition (gallery above) that comes loaded with features.
Sources: Reuters, CarPro1993 - Crash Test Archive via YouTube