The implications of the Volkswagen diesel scandal are, without a doubt, enormous.
There’s a lot of talk about what it means for the company’s brand and the future of its diesel program, not to mention questions about the validity of diesel in general.
But what about the people who own Volkswagen diesel vehicles? What will this do to their brand loyalty and perhaps more importantly, how will it affect the resale value of their vehicles?
I have a friend who owns a 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, a vehicle in the thick of VW’s EPA-cheating scandal. She was blissfully unaware of the abhorrent happenings of last week until I mentioned it to her a few days ago.
She, like many other Volkswagen owners, was disappointed, sad, and even a little angry that her “clean diesel” vehicle was as dirty as dad’s old Mercedes.
She said, “Well, I was thinking about selling it anyway.”
But is that the best move? Shares of Volkswagen are plummeting, and the resale values of the vehicles could fall dramatically as well. Who would want to buy a car involved in one of the most blatant lies an automaker has ever told the general public?
The Jetta does get well over 30 mpg on the highway, as promised, but it emits nearly as much pollution as the entire city of Shanghai in the process.
The cars can be fixed, of course, but that creates more problems. Wired has a great description of the possible ways to fix the emissions problem:
One is to “reflash” the engine control module, recalibrating the software so the car always runs the way it does during EPA testing, and always meets emission standards.
The downside here is that to achieve the drastic drop in NOx emissions, the cars in test mode sacrificed some fuel economy, or performance. Just how much is hard to say, but any drop in torque—one great thing about diesels is how they accelerate off the line—will not make drivers happy. And a drop in mileage would likely cost VW, since hundreds of thousands of drivers would have to spend more on fuel than VW promised at the time of sale.
The other option is an expensive, and space-consuming, urea treatment that can reduce diesel’s emissions by up to 90 percent. That can cost upward of $5,000 per vehicle, though, so VW is unlikely to consider that option.
This is bad. It’s bad for Volkswagen, and it’s bad for anyone who has one of the affected vehicles. There’s no quick repair that will satisfy both VW and its customers.
In my humble opinion, VW should be on the hook and reimburse owners for lost value, but that’s a result that could be years down the road as the political, and possibly criminal, repercussions have to come down first.
These cars are going to be difficult to sell, especially with so many great alternatives on the market.
Would you pay a fair price for a used Volkswagen diesel vehicle?