Many in the auto industry are speculating that the Volkswagen diesel scandal will sour Americans on diesel engines. Personally, I disagree. Diesel engines have gained favor with Americans over the last decade, and it was a long time coming. The VW deception, once the smoke clears and people are made whole, will fade away and it will be business as usual for them. The American public has a very short memory.
The mess at VW will send a message to every automaker that cheating will not be allowed, and that diesel engines must be truly clean, and they must get great fuel economy for people to accept them. In the next couple of years, we will have more choices for diesel cars, trucks, and SUVs than ever before. We will have new entries from GM, Nissan, Jeep, Porsche, Range Rover, Mercedes, and others including many new choices from VW and Audi.
I have recommended diesels for over a decade, and in fact, I have recommended the VW TDI hundreds of time, especially for those who drive a lot of miles. I still say that a diesel is perfect for many people, and I maintain the VW TDI is a great engine that should go 300,000 miles or more.
Diesel engines today are quiet, they are not smelly like they used to be, and they have a ton of torque. People who have bought diesels in the last decade generally buy them again because they love them. Over 125,000 diesel cars and SUVs per year have been sold in the U.S. each of the last three years. In 2014, 67% of the diesel cars and SUVs were sold by VW or Audi, which is why VW must act swiftly and deliberately to make sure current owners are made happy.
Rest assured the Environmental Protection Agency will step up enforcement on diesel emission testing to make sure “clean diesels” are indeed clean diesels. Automakers will be hypersensitive to make sure their diesel engines are compliant and that they get the fuel economy that is stated on the window sticker.
Like many people out there, I feel duped by VW. I have never seen a car company intentionally set out to deceive its customers and the government. However, I see no reason to give up on diesels as a whole, even VWs. There are just too many benefits to diesels for many people.
Looking ahead, I believe VW will be offering some fantastic deals once this crisis is over, especially for those people who currently own VW diesels. VW will have to do something major to regain the confidence of the buying public.
I will continue to recommend diesels of all makes to my listening audience, and encourage them not to get down on diesels. If any good comes out of this mess, it will be that we get even better diesels than before.
I feel betrayed by Volkswagen, but admire its vehicles and its dealers.