You can’t avoid news of Volkswagen’s diesel scandal, and it seems like everyone has an opinion on it.
A quick recap for those who need it: Volkswagen has been using an illegal software cheat to provide artificial results to the EPA for its TDI diesel equipped vehicles. When the vehicles are not being emissions tested, their tailpipe emissions are 40 times higher than what they’re supposed to be. This means that all 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel vehicles under the Volkswagen Auto Group (that includes VW, Audi, Porsche, Skoda and SEAT) around the world have been polluting far worse than we could have anticipated, and some since 2009.
The reaction to the news has been intense. There are stop sales, resigned CEOs, lawsuits, revoked awards and records, a potential criminal charge and a recall is on the way.
What Are People Saying?
We posted a poll to see what the general reaction has been, and a number of readers have responded with some valuable input. More than 1,000 responses have been tallied and the results are interesting.
When asked whether the EPA cheating devices will affect whether one would consider buying a VW TDI diesel, 52 percent said they wouldn’t consider a VW TDI and that they don’t trust them any more, while 48 percent said they have faith the company will make things right.
Beyond diesels, it seems like people are pretty even on Volkswagen as a whole. Fifty-one percent of respondents said they think the scandal is isolated to Volkswagens diesels, and would still consider buying a VW vehicle in the future, while 49 percent is worried about the rest of the VW lineup.
Readers seem to have faith in VW recovering from the issue, with 85 percent thinking that the company will bounce back, while just 15 percent believe it’s game over for them. Seventy-four percent of readers also believe that all automakers are cheating the EPA tests somehow, and VW just got caught. Finally, according to our poll, readers aren’t discouraged with future diesel vehicles.
What Owners Are Saying
Volkswagen owners and enthusiasts also left more personal notes.
“I’m a bit disappointed because it sounds like the likelihood is that whatever fix they come up with will reduce the fuel economy and performance of the car, which is why I bought the car in the first place,” said Chris Canter, a VW owner from Texas, in an interview. Canter currently owns a 2015 VW Golf SportWagen TDI and used to own a 2010 VW Jetta TDI.
“If the option was available, I wouldn’t get the software fix,” Canter said. “I’m not fazed that it wouldn’t pass emissions testing. I’d rather have the performance. Emissions are just not a big concern to me.” He also believes that VW will offer some kind of compensation for the reduced fuel economy or hurt market value. He thinks VW as a company will recover, but that the scandal will likely hurt diesel sales in general.
Asked if he would buy another Volkswagen in the future, Canter said, “As long as it looks like the problem has been dealt with and the car retuned the performance I want, then, yes, I would buy a Volkswagen again. I’d certainly still consider their products, especially if they met my needs in the future.”
“I’d love a buyback from VW,” said Mark Moore in a comment posted to the our poll. “I mean, this will kill my resale value.” Moore didn’t mention what VW model he drives, but said that he was also concerned that the fix could neuter the vehicle’s power output. Another commenter echoed those thoughts.
“Nothing short of a full purchase price buy-back for affected TDI cars should be accepted,” said commenter Daniel Peter Romanello. “No matter what’s done to fix the problem, we all were sold vehicles under false pretences and shouldn’t be expected to accept a band-aided auto under any circumstances.”
Other responses are in stark contrast to the opinion of these owners.
“If you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying,” says one commenter. Many believe that the GM ignition switch scandal is far more important. One major concern is how this can be the death of diesel in North America. “This will likely dissuade buyers from diesel,” speculated Canter.
“What VW did was flat out wrong,” says Daniel Gray, a writer for AutoBytel and noted alternate fuel journalist. His motto is “burn rubber, not gasoline.” He says the big step now is “how they (VW) fix the problem is the big question.” While VW maintains that its cars are still completely safe and legal to drive, they have also issued that a recall for all 11 million of the affected vehicles is on the way. The company says that is has a “comprehensive” plan to fix the affected cars, but the details of the plan are still unknown.
“Owners will not be satisfied with less performance and lower fuel economy,” said Gray. Many are speculating that the recall will involve such drawbacks, but nothing official has been said yet. According to experts who spoke with Reuters, a software update on the newer diesel models could indeed lead to reduced vehicle performance and fuel economy and increased urea use, meaning the diesel exhaust fluid may need to be replaced every 5,000 miles instead of 10,000.
Gray suggests that the biggest issue of this scandal is with fuel. “Second Generation Renewable Diesel produces lower emissions across the board,” he said. “This should be an opportunity for that fact to come to light.” Gray is talking about biodiesel, an alternative to diesel that is renewable, and cleaner burning.
Who Else Is Affected?
As a result of the scandals, other automakers with diesel vehicles are under the magnifying glass. BMW is reiterating that its diesel vehicles are compliant with the emissions standards, despite older studies that have claimed otherwise. General Motor’s new diesel-powered Colorado and Canyon pickup trucks are also being tested thoroughly. The trucks will not be certified for sale until they are tested on road by the EPA to make sure that the new 2.8-liter diesel engine passes emissions tests during normal everyday use.
It’s clear that this Volkswagen diesel problem is going to change a lot of things within the industry, be it consumer confidence, diesel acceptance, or even more stringent emissions standards. It will be interesting to see what happens next.
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