VW Diesel Scandal - Seeing Through the Noise and Smoke
Over the past week it has been hard to avoid the ongoing scandal surrounding Volkswagen’s attempts to circumvent EPA emissions tests. While the specifics warrant a full length book, here are the most relevant facts.
There are two fuels typically powering today’s vehicles, diesel and gasoline. Diesel fuel is much more energy dense than gasoline and can therefore provide superior fuel economy and torque. The downside to this increased fuel economy is that diesel engines emit more nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide (NOx and CO2). Both of these contribute to the smog which affects air quality and the environment.
The U.S. market has consistently been a hard sell for diesel powered vehicles. The word “diesel” conjures up images of belching ferry boats, city busses, and your Econ professor’s old Benz. But in recent years new technologies have transformed the loud, smelly diesels of yesteryear into quiet, powerful, clean burning machines. These newer technologies combined with Increasing fuel costs have made the efficient diesel engine a more attractive option for consumers.
It was discovered that on particular models from 2009 to 2015, Volkswagen had installed complex software in some of their “clean diesel” vehicles. The VolkswagenJetta, Beetle, Golf, Passat, and Audi A3 diesel models were included in Volkswagen’s eventual admittance to the EPA. There are nearly half a million affected vehicles in the United States, and 11 Million worldwide. This software recognized when the vehicle was undergoing an emissions test and the engine computer’s parameters were changed in order to meet the EPA’s emissions standards. An independent company stumbled upon this while testing vehicles in the real world, where the vehicles were found to emit up to 40 times the limit of nitrogen oxides, or NOx. While Volkswagen has yet to provide an explanation for why it disabled the emissions controls, industry analysts have speculated that the emissions controls hindered vehicle performance.
So what does this mean for consumers that currently own these vehicles? The EPA has ordered them to be fixed at Volkswagen’s expense, and Volkswagen has halted all new sales of affected vehicles. There is no immediate safety risk posed by the vehicles and they remain legal for the time being. While Volkswagen will likely issue a recall to remedy this issue, it is unclear how many consumers would choose to have it performed given that they would likely end up with less horsepower and poorer fuel economy than they currently enjoy.
Another issue facing current owners is that of diminished value. Currently the diesel versions of these vehicles sell at premium compared to their gasoline counterparts. Since any recall to fix the “defeat devices” would likely degrade performance, it is assumed the resale value of these vehicles would no longer reflect that premium. So far there has been at least one class action lawsuit filed against Volkswagen on behalf of consumers regarding fraud and diminished value. Check outhttp://repairpal.com/ to keep up with the latest news and information about your vehicle. In order to receive recall notifications about your vehicle, go tohttp://repairpal.com/recalls.