Australia investigating Volkswagen safety after driver death


The Australian government is investigating reports of power loss problems with cars manufactured by Volkswagen AG , amid an inquiry into the death of a woman killed when her Volkswagen Golf was hit by a truck in 2011.

The probe comes just weeks after the German carmaker recalled about 91,000 vehicles in Japan because of potential gearbox problems that could cause cars to speed up or slow down during driving.

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Safety concerns about Volkswagen vehicles have drawn fresh attention in Australia as the Victoria state coroner conducts an inquiry this week into the death of Melissa Ryan. The coroner's decision is due in July.

Australia's Department of Infrastructure and Transport said on Friday that it was aware of Ryan's case and might provide assistance to agencies including coroners.

"The Department is investigating recent reports of safety concerns with Volkswagen vehicles to establish whether systemic safety issues are involved," it said in a statement.

The department also provides information to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which can order a vehicle recall.

The ACCC declined to disclose whether any complaints had been lodged against Volkswagen. Several drivers have contacted local radio stations and newspapers to report instances of sudden power loss while driving a Volkswagen vehicle.

Volkswagen Australia did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

In March, Volkswagen said it would recall 384,181 vehicles in China for similar gearbox problems.

(Reporting By Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Jane Wardell and Daniel Magnowski)