GERMAN legal experts probing Audi’s involvement in the Dieselgate affair have uncovered a bizarre mystery.

They say they’ve found documents suggesting that thousands of vehicles exported to China, Korea and Japan may have been issued with identical vehicle identification numbers (VIN).

The discovery, reported by the German business journal Handelsblatt, was made after the German Transport Ministry accused the company of cheating on emissions testing for 24,000 Audi A7 and A8 diesels.

According to Handelsblatt, Audi’s auditors had the documents about duplicate VINs because they were assessing a “risk of discovery.”

However, an Audi spokesman said: “We are not aware of the fact the VIN numbers have been issued more than once.”

So it’s a ‘fact’?

VIN numbers are supposed to be unique to each vehicle, with 17 digits and capital letters that identify that vehicle’s DNA — including features such as where a car was built, the model year and engine specifications.

They’re used to track recalls, ownership histories, registrations and thefts, among other things.

Under EU and German laws, VIN numbers are supposed to remain unduplicated for at least 30 years.

Investigators told Handelsblatt they were puzzled as to why Audi would produce vehicles under common VIN numbers.

Many Audis, like this A7 in China, Korea and Japan, might have identical VINs.
VIN numbers aren't unique after all


Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.
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