No Diesels For You!

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Thanks to Uncle, you can’t buy a new diesel-powered Volkswagen right now – and maybe never again.A picture taken on September 25, 2015 sh

VW has suspended sales of all its 2016 models powered by TDI (Turbo Direct Injection) diesel engines until they are “certified” by Uncle’s EPA, which may take awhile. Possibly, a long while.

So, until further notice:

No more Beetle TDI. No more Golf (or Golf Sportwagen TDI).

No more Jetta TDI.

Which means… no more affordable diesel-powered cars for you.


Because VW was the only car company selling diesel-powered cars that weren’t also expensive cars. And even if they are allowed to resume selling diesel-powered cars, they are going to be more expensive.

Because Uncle.

Until a couple months ago, you could have bought a 46 MPG-capable TDI-powered Jetta sedan for $21,460. This is less than the sticker price, incidentally, of a gas-engined/otherwise equivalent family sedan like a Toyota Camry ($23,070)… which tops out at just 35 MPG on the highway.

Then along came Uncle.

Cue Soup Nazi voice: No more diesels for you!

The only other diesel-powered passenger car you can buy right now that’s not well over $30,000 to start is the Chevy Cruze – which starts at $25,660.soup nazi

That’s a lot less affordable than $21,460.

After it, you are looking at Audis and BMWs and Benzes – and while Mercedes, et al make some great diesel-powered cars, they are hardly economical cars. You buy them for their tremendous low-end torque and power, or for their highway legs (some can go 600-plus miles on one tank of fuel) or just because. But their high cost to buy makes whatever they save you on fuel an irrelevance.

But let’s go back to the Cruze for a moment. It passes muster with Uncle. But it costs  $4,200 more than the Jetta TDI.

This disparity may well be what you might call The Cost of Uncle. What it takes – in terms of emissions rigmarole – to get a diesel-powered car engine “certified” by Uncle. The Cruze diesel must be fed DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) which is basically urea, which is basically the same thing as “number one” (aka, yellow rain). DEF/urea is injected into the exhaust stream where a catalytic reaction occurs which reduces the final result at the tailpipe to within Uncle-acceptable parameters. But it requires a pretty complicated (read: expensive) exhaust system, as well as an injector system to spray the horse pee (DEF) into the exhaust and a separate tank (in addition to the fuel tank) to hold the urea.TDI image

Maybe they – the car companies – should put a line-item on the window sticker of their new cars that reads: Cost of Uncle.

It just might wake people up.

VW, meanwhile, is facing the possibility of having to retrofit the hundreds of thousands of “noncompliant” TDI-powered vehicles it sold with all of the above rigmarole, in order to placate Uncle. This could cost billions – and might not even be feasible, leaving aside the cost. Each car would have to be surgically altered (body panels cut, then repaired and repainted) in order to fit the urea tank and fill nozzle) and the exhaust system heavily modified.

VW is seriously considering buying back all the “noncompliant” cars and simply crushing them.

That’s more than half a million thoroughly excellent (affordable, real-world mileage actually better than advertised) diesel-engined vehicles thrown away… because Uncle.

Over a literally fractional difference in tailpipe exhaust under certain conditions (the tests used by Uncle are – like most things Uncle does – arbitrary).creepy Uncle

VWs great sin was “cheating” Uncle – for the sake of the people who buy its cars. Who wanted affordable, efficient diesel-powered cars.

Uncle has taken that off the table.

Left on the field, the much more expensive Chevy Cruze… and the even more expensive diesel-powered cars still (for now) being sold by Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

They are probably next.

Uncle says he is (per usual) doing all this for our own good. To keep us safe from the dread effects of a fractional increase in the nearly nil emissions of a modern car engine (whether gas or diesel).

But, consider (something Uncle prefers you avoid doing):

A diesel-powered car like the VW Jetta averages at least 10 MPG better than a gas-engined equivalent like the Toyota Camry referenced earlier. But I can vouch (personal experience, having test-driven every TDI-powered VW at issue) that these things invariably outperform what the EPA gives them credit for. I’ve seen low-mid 50s. This is as good – and in some cases, better than – a hybrid like the sainted Prius.

In any event, the point is the diesel-powered VWs burn a lesser volume of fuel. Which means (junior high math/physics) the resultant total volume of exhaust gasses produced is… less.

And what might that mean?VW icon

Even assuming the more fuel-efficient diesel produces say half a percent more of Harmful Exhaust Byproduct X (and yes, we are talking about fractions of a percent, a fact the media donkeys “reporting” on the VW “scandal” never explain, whether because they’re dumb and lazy or deliberately intend to mislead I leave to you) if it uses 20 percent less fuel and so produces 20 percent less exhaust gas by volume…. well, I leave that up to you, too.

Suffice to say Uncle has made diesel-powered cars more scarce – and expensive. Not only has VW taken all of its diesel-powered passenger cars off the market, Mazda – which had planned to bring an affordable diesel to the market – has decided to forget it… because Uncle.

But he “cares” (remember that one?) and “feels your pain.”

I feel he’s a pain in the ass. An arrogant, ignorant tyrant who is making life more expensive, more of a hassle and for no good reason.

He deserves to be fed fish heads and thrown in the Woods.

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  1. Eric,
    I have tried to discover exactly what gases and in what quantities the EPA does permit.
    Can you dig up actual emission gases and quantities? I am trying to put together physical constants to prove
    1. That the VW TDI is the best engine on the road
    2. That engines are as clean as they can get and further restrictions only produce diminishing returns.

    • David,
      Do you think TPTB care what is possible, let alone about “diminishing returns”?
      That’s for the Little People (us.)

      This is the type who used to buy a new car when the oil needed changing. The type who ..
      Real-life example, I knew someone like this…
      So, she was on a trip, and the rental cars were out.
      She BOUGHT a NEW BMW, I think it was “only” a 3-series. She was on vacation, mind, but she BOUGHT. a BRAND NEW. 3 series. For use on vacation. (Not sure she even brought it back with her.)
      This was late 90s.

      Un F*CKING Believable…

  2. So VW broke the law, probably knowingly, for many years, and somehow that’s the US gvts fault???? Hey, the gvt may not be perfect but this is ALL on VW.Clover

    • Norm,

      Couple of points:

      One, if “the law” is to be venerated and considered morally right by dint of being the law then (as an example) slavery was legitimate and those who violated the law were in the wrong. I am attempting to make a point…

      Two, the tests at issue are arbitrary and have become absurd – we long ago reached the point of diminishing returns. All new/recent model cars (gas or diesel) emit hardly any pollution at all. VW is being crucified over a fractional (less than 1 percent) difference in output, which does not factor into the equation the lesser overall volume of exhaust produced by an engine that uses less fuel…

    • Remember one of the 1st acts of the EPA, back in the time of Tricky Dick? Based on faulty information and the emotions drummed up by Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, they banned DDT. How many people around the world, especially in Africa, have died of malaria because of that decision? And are they liable? Bet your sweet backside they are not!
      Not to mention that the EPA has no authorization in the Constitution, the ‘Supreme Law of the Land.’

    • And what exactly was the “law” that was “broken”?

      VW innovated a way through, the cars PASSED emission certification.

      The State however, and clovers do not care for innovation.

      • Innovation is change, change is risk, “bad things” can happen.
        (E.G., Atomic Bomb, Radio, Internet, Submarines, ICBMs, Radar, etc, etc, etc.)

  3. Do you know if the VW will still be available to buy in other countries like Germany? I hope the US market doesn’t stop them from producing their cars in other areas.


  4. I wonder what VW management would have done, if they had of known that “uncle” was going to treat this poorly before they spend 1.2 billion dollars on building a new plant in Chattanooga ? From what I have read on the subject VW was following the rules given to them, it was “uncle” who changed the rules or the interpretation of the rules afterward. No surprises there considering everything else going on these days.

    (2013 Passat TDI owner, 2003 Jetta TDI owner)

    • Hi Bill,

      My guess is the plant would never have gotten further than talk.

      This mess is going to have wide repercussions; I know for certain that it’s already caused Mazda to opt out of the U.S. market (as far as diesels) and my bet is there will be fewer high-end diesels soon, too.

  5. SAAAAYYyyyyyy.. isn’t that Cruz car a product of General Motors? And didn’t General Motors get bailed out by that very same Uncle who is behind the pillorying of VW? Does anyone else here, by any stretch of the grey matter within your crania, think there is the slightest possiblitly there might be some sort of connection there…. I mean, how “la famiglia” is that, to put such a burden on your closest competitor he’ll no longer be able to deliver the one product that yours is trying to compete with?

    I’m wondering if a class actioin lawsuit might not be appropriate. Start with a challenge to EPA’s authority to pass law, then move on to the arbitrary and capricious way they establish the requirements to “certify”, next hit them up on the business you explained here, 20% less exhaust volume results in far less of the Prohibited Emissions Product being spewed… prove the car produces LESS of those products thus exceeds the requirements…. then challenge the “compelling interest of the stte” to put such arbitrary and, in the end, more harmful standards out there. One judge just clipped EPA’s wings on coal generation. Why not on car exhaust specs?

    • Hi Tionico,


      It’s (cue Daffy Duck) despicable.

      VW has been badly burned. And the prospect of that is very likely to tamp down enthusiasm for diesel engines generally.

      Meanwhile, Uncle continues to coddle worthless (but very costly) electric cars. Which probably produce more pollution in the aggregate than any diesel passenger car engine.

    • “Start with a challenge to EPA’s authority to pass law, ”

      The judge then stops you right there with lack of standing to bring suit. None of us nosepickers out here have the standing to sue any federal agency, according to the twisted tribe of attorneys who control the judicial system at every level.

    • Suing the federal government in federal court is like playing a little league baseball game where the other team gets to put in its second string shortstop as umpire. You are not likely to get very far. In the landmark Obamacare decision, John Roberts said he saw it as his duty to find some way to read the law or the constitution to uphold the act.
      Jim Brook

      • Indeed, Jim.

        Just as it’s impossible to reconcile the plain English of the Fourth Amendment’s clear prohibition of unreasonable searches (and without warrants) with the Court’s egregious approval of stopping people at random, absent even the pretext of individualized suspicion, so also it is beyond understanding how any honest jurist could find in the Constitution authority to force the populace to purchase health insurance. If that is “constitutional,” then anything is.

        The Constitution – allegedly the supreme law of the land – is null and void and, accordingly, “we the people” are no longer obligated to obey the usurper government that rules the country for the simple reason – provided by the government itself – that “we the people” never consented to this form of government.

        • In retrospect, looking back to the drafting/adoption/ratification of the Constitution we can proclaim the ant-federalists arguments against it to be valid. Furthermore, the Constitution can be viewed as a stealth unAmerican (anti-Declaration of Independence) document. This view makes the addition of the DOI/BOR to it (a political compromise used to get ratification by the federalists) as a failed attempt to protect the spirit of the new political paradigm achieved with the American Revolution. In less than one decade after the concept of rights was used to base a political system on, for the first time anywhere, it was contradicted, undermined. We are seeing the complete failure of the promised “checks & balances”, of a self-limiting govt. The so-called (by the Founding Fathers) experiment to protect rights, has failed. We are not protected. We are exploited, violated by our would be protectors. What was the ultimate proscription for such an event? What did T.J. claim to be our “duty” in such a circumstance? Let the abolition begin. It’s 200 years late already.

  6. we love our ’15 Golf SportWagen TDI – 50mpg at 75mph with the base model hosting quality and features rarely found at its price point (we didn’t need the sunroof of the mid-level)… one example? comfortable seats with manual lumbar adjustment! plus, we got $1,000 and 3 years of roadside assistance from VW!

    • And who keeps “The grubby gubmint” alive? The people. Why? Fear of self governance? Fear of self responsibility? Fear of personal sovereignty? Or is it all three combined with a worship of violence, of a social system of institutionalized force instead of reason? Isn’t this the superstition that is killing humanity?

  7. Isn’t diesel less likely to explode than gasoline? Diesel seems to be the one safety improvement they are never willing to make. I also wonder about vapors escaping from the storage and fueling systems polluting the atmosphere, it seems gas should have more of a problem with that type of pollution. I think there is a reason homes are not heated with gasoline. I don’t think diesel needs all those additives either, although I think at this point gasoline doesn’t either but they are mandated.

  8. Eric always does a great job describing the issues and causes for the EPA regulations.

    But we keep turning a blind eye to a major evil player in this fiasco: The Money People. They run virtually everything since lucre is as necessary to our modern society as is oxygen. Most people, and just about all business, live in DEBT. The more something costs, the more debt is created. Who issues debt ? Who gets to charge usury for their debt ?

    The Money Mongers !

    We will never get over this strangle hold until we see who is behind this debacle. They love EPA rules !

    Worst of all, according to the Bible, these people were thrown out of their own temple for the same behavior. But we are too modern to understand this ancient warning.

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ?

    (2005 VW TDI Passat owner)

    • Not all of us.
      Of course, not being as kind and merciful as the Lord, I’d rather kill them where they stand.
      Evil people prey on our good nature, our civility. They profit on it.
      A return to more primitive, primal justice is necessary. We keep understanding the criminals; they keep exploiting us. Incrementalism takes its toll, to where we now forgive murderers and rapists, but rain hellfire on those who break arbitrary “regulations” (speed limits, rolling stops, asset forfeiture – all no injury items).

      If we realized we SHOULD be just a TOUCH less civil, there’d be a lot fewer sociopaths in the world, and we could return to being civil….

      Sheep do not understand that. Wolves understand laws. Sheep understand consensus and “Run!”

      • “If we realized we SHOULD be just a TOUCH less civil, there’d be a lot fewer sociopaths in the world, and we could return to being civil….”

        Much as I hate to admit it, I agree with you, Jean… violent black flagger, you. 😉

        • Ed & Jean: You both have it backwards. It is the worship of a social system of institutionalized violence (govt.) instead of reason, that empowers a few who use that power against the people. This has always been the case, for millennia, and the American Revolution was fought to change this failed paradigm based on force, to a new social system based on individual rights, which requires voluntary interaction. The realization of that paradigm has not happened. It won’t as long as a contradictory political mechanism is supported. We need to renounce brute force as moral, and adopt a voluntary system. That would be protect rights, not violate them.

          • The Crowd (aka Herd, but I term it the Crowd to talk about mob psychology, noting an old book by the same title) doesn’t care. Doesn’t think. It is an emotive thing.

            Reason must live in the heart of all men, or they are little better than animals. Male or Female, there are just so few ADULTS any more, who use reason rather than emotion.

            But the American public is mostly spoiled children. They deserve no privileges, because of that. They’re poor, by choice, in effect. They’re poor because they’re greedy, wanting, and not looking to tomorrow. And Das Boot (FedGov + banks, mostly) works to keep them that way… Keep them spending, consuming, unregulated, undisciplined, children (animals) forever, ruled by emotions – by the base ganglia of the lizard Id.

            Smart enough to do the job, too dumb to question anything.
            With a chaser of lead.

            Or, bend the knee – forever, for your children’s children’s children, should your genes be allowed to exist so long.

  9. The whole urea thing is insane. I honestly refuse to ever buy a diesel that requires one. Not that it would be difficult. I refuse to buy anything that is drive by wire. If the mechanical linkage is not there, nien!

    Who else remembers when EPA regulations requiring urine-injection indirectly lead to someone dying?

    Apparently if you just have rainwater in the DEF reservoir, some systems go into ‘limp mode’ and require a flush of the system to reset.

    There will be, hopefully, ODBII ways to deal with this in the years ahead. Who knows.

    One day I will import a Trabant to make everyone breath that nice, soviet, two stroke motor exhaust. One can dream about things.

  10. Just took a marketing survey from Audi, asking if I’d buy another TDI in the future. Well, considering the loss of value in mine since the tempest in the teapot began, I can’t afford one. Not a big deal really because I had planned on keeping it for at least 10 years anyway. However, if they offer to buy it back at a decent price, I’ll probably take it. If I have to get it crippled to appease the Handicapper General, I’ll be contacting a lawyer.

  11. Welp,

    My state currently exempts diesels from emissions tests 🙂 Until I get a notice saying I can’t renew my registration, I’m not having any work done on a “fix” for my VX diesel and I’m not selling it back.

    • The feds will lean on the states to deny registration to those cars. You can count on that. A few may “protest” it, but they will all fall into line.


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