No More Diesel Cars for US, Says Volkswagen

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In the aftermath of the massive dieselgate scandal, Volkswagen has confirmed it will no longer push diesel vehicles in the U.S.

It’s not a huge surprise considering the fallout from cheating on diesel emissions tests, having to spend more than $15-billion in buybacks, compensation to customers, fines and investing into environmental projects. Speaking to Automotive News, Volkswagen Group of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken has confirmed that Volkswagen won’t relaunch “clean diesels” as a core element of its brand identity. For now, diesels will still be offered from 2017 through 2019, assuming they get approved by regulators, but the German automaker is re-evaluating how diesels fit in the U.S. lineup in the future.

This doesn’t mean that diesels will no longer be offered entirely, as Woebcken confirmed that if “diesel makes sense as a package to the car,” it will be offered. “But in reality, we have to accept that the high percentage of diesels that we had before will not come back again,” he added.

Prior to the dieselgate scandal, Volkswagen offered a diesel engine in six of its eight models sold in the U.S. Diesel vehicles also accounted for over 20 percent of its pre-scandal sales in the U.S., and was the majority of all U.S. diesel car sales.

Instead, you can expect to see a focus on crossovers and SUVs along with electrification from the brand, as it works to change its image in light of recent events.

Even after fixing the cheating vehicles, Volkswagen’s diesel cars still won’t comply with clear-air laws.

The German automaker has reached a $15.3-billion settlement in the U.S., but even after the diesel cars are recalled and repaired, they will still emit more pollution than allowed under the emissions standards the company evaded. To compensate, Volkswagen will have to contribute billions of dollars to environmental programs. Clean-air advocates, however, are upset that government negotiators failed to require repaired vehicles to comply with current standards.

The problem is, a fix hasn’t even arrived and shows just how difficult it can be to re-engineer a car after it has been produced and sold.

The company will invest as much as $10-billion to buy back the affected diesel vehicles and compensate owners. Volkswagen will also have to pay $2.7-billion to federal and California regulators to help fund pollution-reduction projects, as well as giving $2 billion to be invested in clean technology.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) estimates that once the Volkswagen vehicles are fixed, they will have their emissions reduced by 80 to 90 percent over current levels. Regulators however, estimate that the cars could still emit as much as 40 times the permitted amounts of NOx, so even a 90-percent reduction results in more emissions than current laws allow.