Does the Emissions Scandal Spell Disaster for Volkwagen Diesels in the US?

Does the Emissions Scandal Spell Disaster for Volkwagen Diesels in the US?

Posted on Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Volkswagen isn’t as peppy as it claimed.

One of the most shocking scandals in the automotive world has been the revelation that Volkswagen had been cheating US emissions standards with its diesels. It was caught violating environmental regulations, angering consumers and costing the company millions. But what does this mean for Volkswagen fans and diesel lovers?

The Scandal

The scandal itself was shocking enough to many, and involved what amounted to a bit of digital trickery. Volkswagen programmed the software on their cars to, when being tested by government authorities, activate certain emissions control devices so that it would meet the standard. When it wasn’t being tested, those controls would deactivate. This allowed Volkswagen to misrepresent both emissions and fuel economy, since they claimed you got further on a tank of diesel while being greener.

This turns out to be a larger problem than anyone realized. Diesels from Volvo, Renault, Jeep, Hyundai, Citro├źn and Fiat were also investigated, and the diesel market may be forced into a tailspin.

Obviously this created a problem on two levels. One, Volkswagen got into, and remains, in serious legal and financial trouble with regulatory authorities across the globe. In the US alone, this applies to half a million cars and the company faces $46 billion in fines, not to mention class-action lawsuits by consumers and investigations and lawsuits from the states themselves, which may be forthcoming.

Obviously this created a problem on two levels. One, Volkswagen got into, and remains, in serious legal and financial trouble with regulatory authorities across the globe. In the US alone, this applies to half a million cars and the company faces $46 billion in fines, not to mention class-action lawsuits by consumers and investigations and lawsuits from the states themselves, which may be forthcoming.

Second, consumers are now stuck with a very different car than what they thought they were buying. Enabling the emissions controls completely makes the vehicle compliant with the law, at least so far, but that means reduced fuel economy. Oddly, the reduction will mean owners will get the fuel efficiency VW advertised, which begs the question of why the software was included at all. So where does that leave Volkswagen, and diesel fans?

Diesel Or Not?


The TDI is no longer trustworthy for many consumers.

The main question is whether you should buy diesel. The answer, for now, is likely that you should wait and see how the market unfolds. Many companies are still dealing with investigations, and long-term, you might see recalls and repairs to other diesels on the market. That said, diesel does have virtues worth considering, illegal software or not, and it may be the engine you prefer depending on your situation or your access to biodiesel and other green fuels.

In terms of Volkswagen, its future is an open question. The company is still operating and selling cars, but this degree of regulatory fraud is frankly unprecedented and completely uncharted territory. Globally, Volkswagen might be facing an copious amount of fines that may very well end the company. Much will depend on how the various cases shake out in court and how the company decides to pay its fines and costs.

If you’re looking for a greener car, it might be best to start with vehicles that have a proven track record and work from there. Electric cars may be a viable alternative, and gas-powered cars with better fuel efficiency tools will be a good start. But keep an eye on Volkswagen and other diesel companies, to see where things go for them. If you’re ready to buy a new car right now, subscribe to get alerts on vehicles in your area.