I myself have owned and enjoyed a 2009 Jetta Sportswagen TDi and I currently lease a 2014 Jetta TDi Sedan. I've heard all sorts of ridiculous comments on this news story on how it will supposedly affect owners and sellers of VW TDi models. Almost all non-sense by people not familiar with the cars or diesels.
I think it is good to keep a few things in perspective here.
People often try to compare this to the recent recall of Toyota, which involved around 5 million US vehicles and was done over safety (and political) reasons. Toyota was the largest vehicle maker at the time and VW had overtaken Toyota.( It would seem whoever has the crown inherits scandal in the media in one way or another.) This issue however is not a safety issue and if it were not for West Virginia University and the EPA no one would even notice any issue, and did not for 7 years.
This story by itself is admitably rather odd and interesting. Why would a person at the top of a respected company or perhaps their engineers feel comfortable enough to gamble with their reputation and the company's reputation when it really wasn't needed, is the real story.
Perhaps one figured that no one would find out or that it was just an emissions penalty; that they would fix if needed or pay for later. I don't suspect that they expected to let the cat out of the bag, in the way that it escaped. The way the cat escaped and why they put one in the bag to begin with is the curious and almost laughable part. I imagine it may have to do with intense diesel competition from their European rivals.
In fact the story would be rather dull if VW just made a mistake or if the company just needed to recall some of their most popular diesel cars. Afterall one might figure that to correct the problem all that is needed is a computer code that makes the car think it's undergoing EPA testing all of the time, rather than just part of the time. Although, now it sounds that VW may upgrade at least some exhaust systems the affected Golf, Jetta, & Beetle models to the urea injection system. This system is expensive for VW and likely the reason the company held off on introducing this method until just recently on the 2015 Jetta, Golf and Beetle although the Passat has had the system since its reintroduction. As I mentioned in my previous blog, the urea injection system did improve performance, over the previous diesel models, with a 10hp increase.
While the uninformed will scoff at the term "clean diesel" that was coined to describe the new age of diesel technology. For Volkswagen this started with the 2009 TDi cars. There is a huge difference between a 2009 Jetta TDi Diesel and any VW diesel that precedes the 2009 model year. If you ever find yourself driving behind any of the clean diesels at issue (2009-2015) you will almost certainly not know it unless you cheated and read the TDi badge. You will notice no diesel smell unless it's from an older, pre 2009 diesel VW model. The recalled VW clean diesels don't smell like diesels and really don't sound much like diesels either, outside of maybe a little diesel noise at lower speeds anyway. Diesel exhaust that you cannot smell or see is obviously much cleaner then those other vehicles that leave clouds.
It's interesting to note that part of the diesel emission standards are actually tougher in Europe, over the US requirements. The reason why you don't smell diesel exhaust with the VW clean diesels is because Europe has about 5x more stringent standards on diesel particulate matter then the US currently does. If you smell diesel, you smell the particulates. VW appears to have done an excellent job, as even other German brands leave the more familiar diesel exhaust smell. The Nox, or nitrogen gas is the issue with the recall. Europe has lower standards on Nitrogen and VW has apparently dropped the ball on this portion of the US emissions standards, with the recalled vehicles.
Robert Bryce, with BloomberView just published a story titled: Cheating VW's Are Cleaner Than Ethanol". Check out the link to this story:
(Or if this link doesn't work, try searching on BloombergView.com)
But you may say, what about the resale value? I'd just point out that large recalls haven't showed any real change in resale value in the past, even Toyota's resale value. If Toyota isn't affected by the huge safety issue that was alleged and publicized in the media, seemingly forever, with 10x as many vehicles in the US I'd think that VW will be just fine. If VW does add the urea injection system one could argue the point that value is actually being added to the vehicle, which may improve the resale value, if anything.
Government can ruin any good, working ideas; but I think when the dust has cleared we will see that if they handle this right, the fix for this problem is easy and it's impact on mileage and performance will probably go mostly unnoticed by most TDi owners. I think that performance may actually improve on some of these recalled vehicles, especially on vehicles that receive the upgraded exhaust with urea injection. Unfortunately, government penalties may actually end up punishing the consumer, by diverting money away from VW efficiently servicing this issue with the consumers and into (the undeserving) government.
I'm sure resignations and terminations will have their impact on the VW brass, but the cars are still safe, comfortable, fun to drive and fuel efficient no matter who pays at the top for the foolish behavior.
In the meantime, expect to see the typical money sucking leaches, such as lawyers, government politicians and the media attempt to serve themselves at the expense of consumers and VW; with their attempts of panic and chaos. It may be awhile before any changes are made to recalled vehicles, so stay calm and drive on.
Would I buy another VW TDi? Yes, if I could budget another and if VW removed the selling freeze I would do so in a heartbeat. Unlike a Prius there are many more good attributes to this car then just the great mileage, that's why I am confident that VW still has a winner here.