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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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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