Volkswagen scandal: How does it affect diesel image in US?

Interesting | September 22nd, 2015 by 9
2015 volkswagen golf 20 750x500

It’d be impossible for any auto enthusiast to not have heard about the massive scandal involving Volkswagen. I’m sure there are hundreds of crappy articles …

It’d be impossible for any auto enthusiast to not have heard about the massive scandal involving Volkswagen. I’m sure there are hundreds of crappy articles popping up on Facebook, now. “Volkswagen lied!”, they’d read. However, for those who haven’t heard, Volkswagen AG is in quite a bit of trouble with the US Environmental Protection Agency for selling diesel cars that used a software-based defeat device to essentially turn pollution controls off. Volkswagen has stopped sales of the violating diesel-powered vehicles and could be fined up to $18 billion.

This is huge news, as one of the world’s largest and most influential automakers lied and betrayed the trust of the United States government and its customers. The latter are the ones most affected, as they bought Volkswagen diesel products believing in the fact that they were clean and efficient, but were lied to. The problem is the deception. It wasn’t as if these diesel engines were just a bit less economical than they needed to be. Volkswagen intentionally modified the cars to defeat certain pollution controls in the name of fuel economy and performance. That’s intentional deception to its customers. And the damage could extend further than that.

2015 audi a3 tdi front three quarter 06 750x500

2015 Audi A3 TDI – One of the offending models

 

Volkswagen is one of the many brands that has been trying to erase the negative stigma behind diesel engines for decades. Diesel engines in America are thought to be dirty and inefficient and are seldom sold here in comparison to the rest of the world. It’s a stigma that we’ve created due to the poor quality of diesel engines of a bygone era. But the diesel engine has come around within the past decade or so, in the US. Several brands, even some American ones, have been selling diesel engines in small cars within the past couple of years. But will Volkswagen’s recent diesel scandal undo all of the hard work so many brands have done?

Americans don’t need an excuse to dislike diesel, as we already do. So this last scandal is just more fuel to the fire for diesel-haters. “See, they were bad all along and Volkswagen was just lying when they said they were clean!”, haters could say. A new anti-diesel sentiment could possibly crop up again across the United States. If this happens, it’d be a shame, because we were just starting to turn things around.

2015 Volkswagen Passat TDI 125 626x382

2015 Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI engine

Now, obviously, there is no evidence that Volkswagen’s latest diesel-gate scandal will hurt diesel sales in America. But it might, and that’s the issue. This whole scandal has put a bad taste in the mouth of many Americans who already were weary of diesel engines to begin with. Does this Volkswagen scandal mean all diesel engines are bad? Of course not, it doesn’t even particularly mean that the violating Volkswagen diesels are bad. They just had software installed on them to defeat certain pollution controls. If that software had never been installed, it’s likely these engines would have passed the EPA’s tests and been fine, but would have had worse performance and economy at times. So logically, this shouldn’t hurt the reputation of the diesel engine.

Though, society rarely acts logically. People easily whip themselves up into frenzies reading poorly informed click-bate articles on Facebook and other social media and then rant and rave and spread false rumors. While this hasn’t happened yet, it’s very possible that it could and then we’ll be back in to the old philosophy of thinking diesel engines are the crude and filthy soot machines from the ’70s. Hopefully this doesn’t happen, but unfortunately it’s possible. Thanks Facebook.

9 responses to “Volkswagen scandal: How does it affect diesel image in US?”

  1. Indrit Selimi says:

    Yes, it si really a good point the one about news quality and people information in the era of the social media…though I think would be easy to fix for the same reason…The question that puzzles me is how this fact will affect the VW group and the equilibrium between luxury car brands for example?

  2. Chris Parente says:

    “If that software had never been installed, it’s likely these engines would have passed the EPA’s tests and been fine, but would have had worse performance and economy at times. So logically, this shouldn’t hurt the reputation of the diesel engine.”

    What are you basing this statement on? From reports I’ve read, the engines were 40x over the pollution limits! Isn’t there a good chance they never would have been able to pass, while still offering the performance demanded by the U.S. market?

  3. Barry says:

    This post is way too generous to VW. While I agree 100% that it’d be a shame if VW’s cheating affected BMW (and Mercedes and Chevy) who are genuinely offering excellent small diesels that have well-engineered DEF systems, I don’t believe that “it’s likely these [VW] engines would have passed the EPA’s tests and been fine.” It does not make sense for them to have perpetuated such a huge fraud if the problem was that subtle. And the testing that was done at WVU that uncovered the issue showed an absolutely enormous discrepancy between the performance during testing and in real-world on-the-road conditions. This discrepancy wasn’t the result of them having an engine that just barely missed meeting regulations and which only needed a little software-based massaging to do so, but was the result of them purposefully designing the software so that the engine could be as efficient as possible without being hindered by the regulatory requirements. Their doing this, multiplied by the number of cars on the road, adds up to a tangible health issue for all of us, which is the reason the regulations exist in the first place.

  4. […] over have been pondering the future of compression-ignition engines. We’ve done it ourselves, asking if VW’s scandal could possibly hurt diesel fuel in America, and even the world, by making both consumers and governments distrust it. Even BMW, who regardless […]

  5. […] have been introspective a destiny of compression-ignition engines. We’ve finished it ourselves, asking if VW’s liaison could presumably harm diesel fuel in America, and even a world, by creation both consumers and governments dread it. Even BMW, who regardless of […]

  6. […] all of the stigma surrounding diesel engines in the past six months or so, thanks to Volkswagen’s dieselgate scandal, you’d think that companies like BMW might be pulling back a bit with diesel engines. […]

  7. […] a result of the massive Volkswagen diesel scandal, U.S. federal agencies are being extra careful to test and certify diesel […]

  8. […] Americans and younger Americans are more into what’s eco-friendly and hemp t-shirts. So when Volkswagen’s diesel scandal hit, many were quick to assume, and rightfully so, that the diesel engine in America would soon be […]

  9. […] Americans and younger Americans are some-more into what’s eco-friendly and hemp t-shirts. So when Volkswagen’s diesel scandal hit, many were discerning to assume, and justly so, that a diesel engine in America would shortly […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

BMWBLOG

NEWSLETTER