This week was a busy one for the auto industry. As top vehicle manufacturers announced their major shifts towards electric vehicles, Volkswagen delivered news of its own. The company is saying goodbye to its diesel line-up in the US. Which means we are seeing the end of the "clean diesel" initiative which saw 1 in 5 VW cars sold in the US sporting the TDI logo.
Well, the show's over, folks. Volkswagen's North American operations chief has openly confirmed that the era of affordable clean, green diesel powertrains is over for the company. And while this comes as no surprise given their emissions scandal, many were suggestion diesel would make a quick come back.
The 2016 Golf, Jetta, and Passat sporting diesel engines are under stop-sale until the EPA gives its approval on a technology solution which takes VW's emissions back into the norm. Volkswagen's prosed fix is expected to gain regulatory approval as early as next month. And everyone assumed the company would apply that same technology to its new 2017 diesel models. But what we see instead is that the high cost of this technology coupled with VW's suffered brand image following dieselgate have sealed the TDI's fate in USA.
"We will still offer diesel in specific products and packages where it seems appropriate," says Hinrich Woebcken, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. “I wish to make clear that the push for diesel for the brand is done” in North America. But he also went on to imply that the future of the VW TDI was apparent long before. “Because of upcoming regulations, the diesel would have seen a limited future, regardless” of the scandal."
So, what does all this really mean? We've (probably) already seen the last of the diesel Golf, Jetta, Beetle, and Passat. Just maybe, the premium-priced Touareg might be offered with a diesel engine. And even if the TDI survives in certain niche applications, the company is taking a headstrong shift towards electric models.
But before you attribute the change of direction to high corporate ethics, keep in mind that some regulators have successfully argued that Volkswagen needs to make a corporate commitment towards the sale of a large number of electric vehicles as a part of its court-ordered settlement.
But after all is said and done, VW's priority still remains to quickly resolve their current emissions violation case. And whilte it's still ongoing, the company's reputation continues to suffer. “Our first priority is to implement the TDI fix. We want to do it professionally using the buyback/fix option in a very German, engineered way. We are still in the approval process, and preparing the dealers. First and foremost is to solve this at a high satisfaction level, fix it, and go on from there.” said Woebcken.
Will you miss Volkswagen TDI engine or are you looking forward to their electric models?