How VW Needs to Fix Its Reputation: The Skinny with Craig Cole

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Welcome to a new editorial segment called The Skinny, hosted by your favorite Craig Cole. We hope this will be a weekly feature where Craig sounds off (gives you the skinny, if you will) on the latest news from the auto industry or whatever else he has on his mind.

This week, Craig talks about what Volkswagen needs to do to fix its reputation after the diesel emissions scandal.

As you know, the company was caught skirting rules in a massive way with software that was intentionally designed to fool emissions tests, meaning VW’s diesel cars pollute far more than they claimed to. Around 700,000 of its vehicles in America are affected by cheating emissions software. To correct this issue, there’s talk of reprogramming their powertrain-control computers or updating the emissions-control systems, but it’s doubtful whether any of these courses of action would correct the issue.

In contrast, Craig’s plan would fix everything in one smooth, quick motion. The only problem is that it would cost VW a lot, maybe enough to cause their checkbook to burst into flames.

For all the details about this plan, check out the video above. You won’t (or at least shouldn’t) be disappointed, though if you are, too bad!

Do you agree with what Craig has to say? Let us know in the comments below.

Discuss this story on our Volkswagen Forum

  • discuss_1230

    OK, I have a question about this potential buyback I keep hearing about. I own a TDI Jetta, and I will not sell it at (nearly) any price. Ever. Given how attached I and many other TDI owners are to our stupendously awesome cars, how does this buyback work? Will the EPA’s jack-booted thugs come in the middle of the night and take my car, leaving a check for fair-market-value under my pillow? Will they make us give up cars we don’t want to sell?

    I would take a new, compliant TDI though.

  • Dennis Krebs

    Nothing has been made official. And yes, TDIs are stellar vehicles. I own two 2014 first gens.

  • Rocket

    I agree that a generous buyback option is the best way to smooth things over with the maximum number of current owners. Adding special loyalty incentives to purchase other VAG products would help keep some of those owners in the fold, although said incentives shouldn’t be limited to the VW brand. I think we can expect the bitter environmental types to flee the brand regardless of how much money is thrown at them.

  • ChiCarGuy

    A full buyback program is an extreme solution and extremely costly. It’s therefore not gunna happen. I think they’ll fix the cars and write checks to owners to compensate for the lost value of their cars, and give them huge loyalty incentives on a new car.

  • craigcole

    They could do it through the registration process. Your state might not let you get plates or insurance for the car, effectively taking it off the road permanently.

  • smartacus

    Hey i got a much cheaper solution!
    Gamble on the EPA being eliminated.

    At least one presidential candidate has vocalized eliminating Federal Agencies including the EPA and giving that authority back to the individual states.

    Taking the fight state-by-state is still easier than the Federal Government.
    NTM state politicians are a lot easier to approach.

  • Jonny_Vancouver

    And why wouldn’t they? VW didn’t just “skirt” the rules imo, they flat out lied to their customers and by doing so also broke trust. In a world where everything is under more scrutiny and fewer things remain hidden, it was pretty arrogant of VW to think they could get away with living a lie.

    Imo, there’s nothing they can do to “fix” this situation, but they can atone for their crimes over time to win back the public’s trust. but something tells me the same arrogance that made them think they could fool the public for long will lead them to continue to try to sweep this whole incident under the rug.

    In a list of car company’s we can do without: GM, Chrysler, VW…

  • Rocket

    I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t. I’m a very unhappy VW diesel owner myself. I wouldn’t blame anybody for leaving. In fact, regardless of any loyalty incentives they offer, I’ll likely never own another VW product myself.

  • E boaerg

    Give VAG until 07/01/2016 to do or die on affected TDIs. 04,/21 is just not enough time. After 07/01 if solution not found demand VAG replace all engines or buyback said vehicles at full refund to purchaser. Give VAG a $5B fine for air quality violation w/no appeal rights & 6 more months to solve conundrum they created. At end, if not solved, 35% of VW fleet must be electric by 2019 & remaining $11B fine w/no appeal rights or criminal charges for Horn, Winterkhorn.& diesel engine chief.

    Don’t pussfoot w/VAG or any other auto manufacturer.

  • discuss_1230

    To clarify the question I was posing, would any envisioned buyback be voluntary or compulsory? If compulsory, would it be at full new-purchase price or ‘fair-market-value’ (pre-scandal). I have yet to hear any clarification on these fundamental questions, which obviously make a huge difference in what is meant by ‘buyback’: the difference between being treated fairly and screwed over by our own Gov’t and VW.

    I would be OK with with payment for loss of value and a voluntary buyback plan (and not participate) , OR compulsory buyback with reimbursement for the full new-purchase price so I could buy another (compliant) TDI, OR give me a new (compliant) TDI, OR fix the one I have and a check for the loss in value.

  • I love my 2014 R-Line Beetle Coupe TSI. No scandle there. Just a great car. Everyone I know that owned a TDI loved it to death prior to this fiasco. Remember kids to tell the truth. VW is learning it the hard way. Life lesson here.

  • Jonny_Vancouver

    Aye, I didn’t mean to suggest that you were suggesting … 😛

  • Kenneth

    “state politicians are a lot easier to approach”

    Speaking plainly, yes, companies have much more power to influence laws at the state level. So, you believe giving morals-free corporations even more power to influence our lives (usually to our detriment) is a good thing? Yep, real smart way to vote.

  • smartacus

    i’m going to play Chinese Chess with your logic so watch this:
    State Level emissions also means picketing on campus for state-level changes would go a lot farther.

  • Rickers

    I’m not sure it can be compulsory. Can anyone force you to return something you bought? Apart from expropriating land to put through a highway, can you think of another case where you have to give up something you paid money for?

  • Alec Sevins

    How about also going after the EPA-haters and street racers who contribute large amounts of pollution by tampering with emission controls, rolling coal, etc? Modified motorcycles are some of the worst polluters, also. Some of it is done out of ignorance of modern engine design. Many shade-tree scofflaws and horsepower junkies think reducing back-pressure will negate pollution via fuel savings. At least that’s their public rationalization. They have a poor understanding of what emissions controls do, especially in realm of diesels. One hillbilly with a diesel truck told me he “removed all that crap” for better power. Typical dumbed-down attitude.

    Vilifying VW while letting millions of everyday smog-criminals get away with it is not helping air quality.