As some of you know, Becki and I bought our first-ever VW a little more than a year ago. Being fans of road trips, we picked up a lightly-used Golf TDI. It’s the first VW either of us ever bought so we were a little apprehensive about it, but then we test drove it; great handling, quick off the line, very solid at freeway speeds, and gets 45mpg on the highway?! We bought in… and then “dieselgate” happened.
Not only is this the first VW, it’s also the first diesel. I think one of the reasons we were okay with getting a diesel when we never had one before was our rental Peugot in Ireland. It was a great small car – solidly built, lots of upscale features you don’t often see on small cars in the US, and with a manual and it’s small 1L turbo-diesel engine, got great mileage while still being spritely in the city and not feeling under powered at 70mph on the freeway. We came away very impressed with that little car, and lamented that such things aren’t available in the US.
Then we test drove our Golf, and suddenly found that such cars actually were available in the US, at least from one manufacturer – it’s just that we had never considered them before.
The Only Way VW Can Make it Right
So now we have a pricey little car (VW Golf TDI’s were right around the $30-32k mark brand new, until the stop-sale happened of course…) whose value is almost guaranteed to drop, since whatever solution VW designs will almost certainly change one of three things:
- Fuel economy
Obviously, the goal is the change emissions for the better without changing the other two for the worse. But since it’s almost guaranteed that fixing the emissions will lower either economy or power (or lower both to a smaller degree), it’s no longer the car that was sold us, and no longer worth its price premium. If we wanted emissions and economy without power, we would have bought a Prius. If we wanted emissions and power without economy, we would have bought a WRX. So how can VW fix the problem without sacrificing the value of the car or changing the initial selling points? Simple…
My proposal is this: VW needs to sell biodiesel to all owners affected by the scandal, at a price no higher than the price of local regular diesel fuel. I don’t care how they do it – put in an above-ground tank at every dealership, submit receipts of your biodiesel purchase and they refund you the difference in cost, converting the cars to run on waste vegetable oil at VW’s cost and let us fuel up from fryer vats, or whatever… The important thing is that running the cars on bio fuel will make good on all the cars promises of fuel economy, power, and emissions. Currently though, VW doesn’t warranty cars if you put anything higher than B5 biodiesel (a mix of 95% diesel, 5% biodiesel, mandated in some areas similar to 10% ethanol in gasoline) in the tank. Obviously, they’ll have to change that policy, which is the least they can do for this monumental disgrace. And from what many VW owners have done experimenting with their own cars, all of the VWs affected by dieselgate should have no mechanical issues with running up to 100% biodiesel. VW wouldn’t even have to make any changes to the vehicles.
So there you have it folks. A graceful, simple solution that will most likely never happen because no one likes graceful, simple solutions anymore. These days if it’s not overly complex and has a high probability of failure, no one wants it as a solution. So in the mean time, we’ve pre-ordered a Tesla Model 3 (yup, even stood in line for it and ordered before seeing it), and we’re going to take our VW goodwill package and invest the $500 in a WVO (waste vegetable oil) kit for our Little Millie, and will be able to cruise with a completely clear conscience.