By on March 17, 2016

Jack Baruth, Miami Valley Region, 2006 VW Phaeton

The way my life has been going lately, I’m seriously considering selecting a random TTAC reader to be the executor of my modest estate and then taking a shot at BASE-jumping off the Petronas Towers. If that reader happens to be you, then I need you to do at least this one thing. Have Wal-Mart or whomever the lowest bidder happens to be engrave the following on my headstone: “He saw passive aggression and, wherever possible, met it with actual aggression.”

I’m old enough to remember when women were passive-aggressive and men were just plain mean, instead of the other way ’round. I liked it better. The other night I was at dinner and my date asked for coffee and the swishy waiter pouted, “We can do it, if you want to wait fifteen minutes.” I’d rather he said, “Go to hell. We don’t serve coffee here.” I could respect that.

Even in 2016, however, it’s rare for an entire company to be passive-aggressive. But that’s exactly what Volkswagen is doing: threatening to abandon the mass market in the United States, presumably because its current exposure to lawsuits and government penalties is too high and its showroom traffic isn’t exactly at Beetles-in-the-Summer-Of-Love levels. I don’t know what it thinks such a move would accomplish, but I do know what the proper response is to a girlfriend, or colleague, who tries that approach: You hold the door open for them and let it hit them in the ass on the way out.

Let me, as the man said, make one thing perfectly clear: I’m a Volkswagen guy. From Fox to Golf to Passat to Phaeton(s), I’ve never hesitated to walk into the dealer and put my money where my fahrvergnügen was. I think VW makes some truly brilliant cars, most notably the current GTI.

That doesn’t mean that I can turn a blind eye to VW’s continued and uninterrupted reign of incompetent terror in this country since the beginning of the water-cooled era. For the last 40 years, Volkswagen has viewed its American customers with open contempt and it’s never hesitated to make us aware of that fact. The thousand injuries of Wolfsburg I have borne as I best could: from poky square-headlight Westmoreland GTIs to the eight-valve, quad-lamp Mk2 “GTI”, to the interiors of the Tennessee Passat — the list goes on.

To be an American VW fan is to resign one’s self to the certain knowledge that the good stuff is never going to come your way. Once a decade or so the company will grudgingly let a few Corrado VR6es or something like that onto a Jersey-bound boat, but in general the American showrooms have been Plato’s cave writ large in banal yellow-and-stainless-steel decor, showing us vague shadows of European product and expecting us to pay top dollar for the privilege of taking the cast-offs.

In my youth, I didn’t find the above-discussed practices so offensive because they were pretty much standard operating procedure for every European and Japanese automaker. The 1985 GTI was a bad joke, but so was the BMW 528e. The Fox cost almost half again what a Tercel did, but at that same time the 560SEL cost half again what an LS400 did. We never saw the really nifty high-performance Volkswagens, but Toyota kept its good stuff at home as well. It was just the way of the world.

Then everything changed. In the ’90s, Americans started getting the real deal in our showrooms, from the MkIV Supra to a full-strength E46 M3. AMG brought its full line to the United States, more or less. You could buy an Integra Type R if you were smart enough to pull the trigger on one.

I could have bought an Integra Type R at the time, but I bought a B5 Passat instead. The Piech-led VW renaissance promised to finally equalize the United States and the fatherland. For a brief moment it looked like it might really happen. You could buy stick-shift turbo Passat wagons and the R32 and the Phaeton W12. The long national nightmare in which American VW fans had to look longingly over our fences at everybody from Germany to Brazil seemed to be at an end.

There was just one little problem: the product wasn’t really any good. The B5 Passat was a much better car to drive than the equivalent Accord, but it sure didn’t last like an Accord or even a Malibu. The MkIV compact Volkswagens were business-school case studies in the unintended consequences of cost-cutting. The Phaeton was undermined by sullen dealers, ridiculous option packaging, and marketing that seemed designed to ensure that nobody heard of the car except as a punchline.

After absolutely brutalizing its most loyal customers with quality problems and cliff-face depreciation for the first decade of the millennium, VW finally decided to do something about it. That “something” was to make a big deal about creating cheaper cars for the ignorant hicks in “Murica.” We got super-sized Passats and Mexi-Jettas. I want to take a moment to focus on VW’s attitude here, which I can sum up in this imaginary dialogue:

VW Customer: Well, I’ve owned five Volkswagens and they’ve all spent a lot of time in the shop.

VW: Our cars are too expensive and high-quality for the American market.

VW Customer: I’m not too sure about that, because they don’t seem to hold up like Corollas do…

VW: We made special cheap cars for you.

VW Customer: I don’t think the problem was that the cars weren’t cheaply made enough.

VW: Yes it was.

VW Customer: Really, it wasn’t.

VW: Well, here’s our new lineup of cost-cutter sedans. Take it or leave it.

VW Customer: Is there anything you still bring here that’s properly German and built like you give a damn?

VW: Perhaps we can interest you in a TDI Sportwagen.

That conversation, in one form or another, has been occurring since 1975. The American Volkswagen customer asks for high-quality products and demonstrates willingness to pay a little extra, and VW treats him like a toothless yokel. This worked fine back when the only affordable German-branded car bore the Wolfsburg crest, but today you can lease a 3 Series or a C-Class for what it would cost you to risk a five-year loan on a GLI or Passat. Why buy a generic-label BMW when you can get the real thing for the same money?

Of course, the ultimate expression of VW’s contempt for the American market was this TDI boondoggle. The company’s going to pay dearly for that contempt. You can’t thumb your nose at Uncle Sam nowadays and expect to survive. Ask Vicki Weaver. And VW’s proposed solution to the problems its arrogance caused is more of the same. They’ll retreat upmarket? To where, exactly? The BMW 228i kicks the ass of any sporting VW in history. It’s $32,100 and the VIN begins with “W”. Is VW going to charge $35,000 for a Mexican GLI?

If VW thinks that people will pay a premium for mystery-meat MQB variants when they can go across the street and buy the best C-Class in history for $40,000, they’re kidding themselves. If VW thinks that its brand has enough mojo left to go upscale, they’re smoking more weed than Snoop Dogg. There’s nothing in the hopper, not even the MQB Passat, that would justify Lexus money.

It would be better for the company to just close up shop in the United States. Sell the remaining inventory, tear up the dealer agreements, and admit on the public global stage that they can’t cut it here, the same way that Peugeot, Renault, and British Leyland did. Take out one final ad in the WSJ: “We abused your trust and your goodwill and we’re sorry. Goodbye.” Audi can offer an expanded A3 range to pick up the scraps of brand loyalty left behind and the dealers can go to hell. Most of them were a disgrace anyway.

And who’d miss VW? Almost nobody. It would suck to not have the GTI around but really in the hot-hatch segment it was primus inter pares at best. I’m not stupid enough to buy a third Phaeton. Thrifty can get its mid-sized sedans from Hyundai like everybody else.

There’s an alternative, of course. The blueprint for succeeding in the American car market is far from a secret. We all know what it is, because we all watched Honda and Toyota do it. Build cars with cast-iron reliability and sell them dirt cheap until the public realizes how good they are, at which point you can raise the price. I don’t know how many of you will remember that an Accord used to cost less than a Chevrolet Citation, but such was indeed the case.

It’s a tough path. It requires massive talent, unwavering commitment, and deep pockets. It doesn’t happen overnight. The American public’s perception of vehicle quality trails the current reality by about 10 years, give or take. That’s 10 years of building truly great cars and selling them cheap. Ten years in the desert. Well, the Israelites had it worse.

I don’t reckon that the arrogant and unpleasant men who head Volkswagen would be capable of such self-abasing effort. Given the choice between working their asses off to have a viable presence in this market and abandoning America by degrees, they’ll likely choose the latter. They’ll say that it doesn’t matter. They have Germany, they have Europe, and they have all their little protected markets where people still buy brand-new 1982 Quantums at full price. Who needs America?

Well, we all know the answer to that. This is the world heavyweight championship of auto markets. It’s the place where Lexus was born and where Hyundai has risen to prominence. If you can’t make it here, it’s just a matter of time before you can’t make it anywhere. It’s a shame that Max Hoffmann isn’t around to explain it to the VW executive team, but don’t you worry; eventually, they’ll get the message.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

284 Comments on “No Fixed Abode: Time For Volkswagen To Say Goodbye...”


  • avatar

    Plenty of companies (and countries) have been destroyed by aggressive environmentaliberalfascism.

    My heart goes out to the WORKERS and the families of the workers who will find themselves without a job or with cut salaries because of environmentaliberalfascism.

    People who PRODUCE are A-OK in my book…rather than those who simply TAX and CONSUME to STEAL the HARD WORK OF OTHERS.

    I’ve never been a fan of VW (beyond Bugatti, Audi and Lamborghini), but seeing your company ruined by crony-capitalism and treehuggers run amok irks me.

    • 0 avatar
      EMedPA

      Sorry, BTSR, but VW is not a victim of environmental regulations (that every other manufacturer seems able to comply with), but of their own substandard product, larcenous dealer network, and, as Jack pointed out, utter contempt for their American customers. They won’t be missed.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        VW is a victim of its own ambition, greed, hubris, incompetence, arrogance, and criminality.

        The first two were understandable and good, but as soon as they hit the third item on the list they were poised at the slippery slope. After that it was a bob sled run.

    • 0 avatar

      I love me some BTSR but crony-capitalism and tree hugging is not the cause of VW’s downfall. Lying and cheating is the cause of that. Jack makes a really accurate point about cost versus value too.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      BTSR –

      I’m an unabashed VW fan, and yes, the EPA reaction has been over the top. But no, I don’t give Volkswagen a hallpass for this debacle. They went out of their way to lie, coverup and obfuscate.

      Dieselgate is the culmination of all that is wrong with VW’s approach to America and is in some ways worse than the “accidents” that led to ignition lock collisions, rear-impact explosions, or airbag shrapnel deaths/dismemberment. No, Volkswagen actively went out of its way to cheat the system, lie to consumers and then blame everyone but themselves.

      Humans forgive “accidents” far more quickly than we do hubris. VW has shown flat out scorn, disdain and arrogance toward the US market and is rightly being punished for it. They’ve paved their own road in this implosion.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      How they heck can you blame the environmentalists for VW’s alleged lying?

      Would you prefer returning to the era of daily smog alerts and large brown clouds hanging over our cities.

      And even of people dying from pulmonary issues related to air quality?

      If other companies can act within the law, then why not others?

      Creating a sustainable manufacturing program can actually help to improve quality and reduce production costs. In particular it helps improve your diligence when selecting suppliers and use of raw materials.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I do blame the EPA for being so incompetent that this was allowed to happen. But bellyaching because the EPA chose to enforce the rules once Volkswagen were caught? That’s like a high-schooler’s parents saying, “My son didn’t *mean* to rape your daughter. And she was kind of asking for it, as slutty as she likes to dress. Besides, he’s the star football player. If he gets expelled, the whole town will suffer.”

        I’m sorry that people may have to lose their jobs because of VW’s poor decision-making…but it’s just that: VW’s poor decision-making. Don’t blame the EPA for holding the company to standards that every other automaker seems able to meet. I’m not a tree-hugger, but those standards are here for a reason. I do find myself a little pissed that I wound up buying two of the offending vehicles.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Edit: this is in reply to Kyree’s comment above.

          The EPA’s so-called incompetence in this case is exactly what Americans paid for and voted for.

          They don’t have the budget or the political backing to do their own testing, so they have to rely on manufacturers’ word. That’s what people said they wanted!

          If anything, the EPA’s investigation and action shows that they are competent, in spite of Congress’s long term policy of starving them.

          • 0 avatar
            mu_redskin

            I would add that this is what ‘Starve the Beast’ looks like – government agencies that exist in name only… This is why we can’t have nice stuff like roads that are drivable and transit that works(see recent DC metro shut down..)

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            doesn’t matter. it’s never been a secret that the EPA can assess very stiff penalties for violations, which is supposed to be the dis-incentive against cheating in the first place. VW knew that and chose their path.

          • 0 avatar
            jefmad

            heavy handle,
            EPA’s budget for 2016 is $8.1 Billion dollars. Exactly how many dollars do they need to actually do what they are supposed to do? i’ll give the taxpayers a break and issue pollution limits and let industry tell me if they met those targets for a mere $1 Billion a year. Think of the savings!

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            the EPA has watch over far more than just the auto industry, you know. A lot of that budget goes towards paying for cleanups (“SuperFund.”)

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            One more They Don’t Have The Budget excuse for a government agency and I’m gonna kill a cat.

            Enough already.

            The EPA and every damned agency waste more money than can be justified when new budgets are requested.

            And I love Kyree…and his example is enlightening…but the escape being offered here for VW is no more unacceptable than blaming Trump for violence at his gatherings. Suggesting his comments somehow allow protesters to have the freedom to attend rallies an d scream loud enough to drown out the speakers is nuts!
            That is really more like Kyrees example of excusing the rapist. Sorta blaming the owner of a car for leaving his keys in the car and “forcing” a good kid to go bad and steal it.

            What really needs to happen here is those responsible need to pay the penalty. Not the entire company.

            But why should we expect this? To Big To Fail has become the mantra of our day.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            Heavy, as is usual with government, if you want to understand why something is happening or not happening, follow the money. Who benefits from car companies operating on the honor system for emissions? It’s this way for every industry.

            Voters could change that by not re-electing anyone to any public office, but we’re too busy declaring our allegiances to the party of elephants or donkeys to notice.

            Know who’s to blame? Look in the mirror.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @jkross:

            Yes, we could use a good housecleaning, but I’m sorry, if you want the root cause for the EPA’s current malaise, I’d say one party is DEFINITELY more to blame for it than the other.

            Given that party’s constant demonizing of environmental issues and “big gummint” it’s not hard to figure out which one it is.

            We get the government we pay for.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            TrailerTrash, that’s just simplistic thinking. $8.1B is about $26 for every person in America. And every single business in America has some kind of effect on the environment. It’s really not a lot at all, and you’ll need to show me specifics if you’re going to argue it’s wasted, not just throw your hands up in the air because you have an uninformed impression that bureaucrats are sitting around all day playing Solitaire at your expense.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The “voluntary compliance” system allows products to get to market more quickly and cheaply, versus the type approval method that allows the screening process to slow innovation and serve as a trade barrier.

            Odd that a right-winger would suggest that a system that requires less front-end bureaucracy and fewer approvals in order for a business to operate is a bad thing.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            dal20402

            you are kidding, right?
            How do we (you) get from government waste to ALL government workers not working?
            Another strawman argument knuckleheads like to use when trying to pretend they have facts.
            Are you implying the government does not waste money?
            Billions?
            You want me right here is begin listing the examples of government waste to show you that I some how imagine government workers sitting around playing a board games?

            The IRS overpaid 17 billion if erroneous payments last year…according to its own inspector general.
            PLEASE!
            Clean up the waste and THEN tell me you need money.

            But don’t ask me to give you a list of all government waste to help you understand.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            TrailerTrash, the IRS deliberately makes the overpayments you’re referencing because finding all of them would cost more than is lost and require an enormous expansion of IRS staff that Congress is not willing to fund. Congress in its infinite wisdom set up an EITC scheme that is almost impossible to enforce and very easy to game, and shady tax preparers do just that with poor people’s returns (and usually keep the excess). There is nothing the IRS, which is just following the law Congress established, can do about that. Your beef there is with Congress.

            And, yes, if you want to tell me there is JUST SO MUCH WASTE you have to support that. You’re just waving your hands in the air. A third of the entire budget goes to Social Security, which is notable for a very low rate of fraud (and, not coincidentally, adequate staffing and a very aggressive and well-funded inspector general). A majority of the rest is Medicare, which isn’t as good as Social Security but is still not bad, and defense, which is a pit of corruption because Congressmembers with contractors in their districts want it that way. You’re not going to be able to change the fundamental picture by going after waste in the small portion of the budget (less than a quarter) that makes up the rest of the government, especially since most agencies have active inspector generals who have already been rooting out waste for decades.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            dal20402

            “the IRS deliberately makes the overpayments you’re referencing because finding all of them would cost more than is lost

            astonishing.
            Simply astonishing how you get about enabling government waste.
            That they actually do it cause stopping it cost even more!

            And VW had to allow some cheating here n there cause keeping a watchful eye on every employee actually cost to much.
            Just gotta let some crime get by…cause prevention and punishment is just to damn costly!

            Nothing more I can say.

    • 0 avatar
      bachewy

      Let me ‘mathmetize’ your ‘argument’:

      Profit > Health

      Gotcha.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        There are too many examples of companies not complying with environmental issues/requirements and leaving us the public to pay enormous amounts to clean-up.

        For example the Giant Mine in the North-West Territories. When the carpetbagging, woman who owned and ran that mine ran away after a litany of problems, left behind were approximately 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide. Noxious dust has blown into the local community. The cost to clean this up will run to about $1 Billion.

        Then there is the oil blob in the river near Sarnia/Port Huron, the tar pits in Cape Breton, the Big Ben creosote dump in Cornwall and of course the Love Canal in Niagara Falls New York.

        Better to spend hundreds of millions on government enforcemetn and prosecutions, than billions on clean-ups and medical bills.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          N.B. Love Canal is *not* an example of “not complying with environmental requirements”.

          It’s a matter of requirements being different [though still basically sufficient] decades before and the local City government … *breaching the impermeable clay containment system* through incompetence (and trying to do so through greed).

          (http://reason.com/archives/1981/02/01/love-canal)

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @sigivald, thanks for the link. Love the quote from the article that: “pollution was a term that only communists, oddballs, or crazy people ever used. Niagara Falls considered itself fortunate back then to be one of the capitals of the world’s chemical industry.”

            It is disturbing that, (and here I am cutting and pasting from Wikipedia; “Hooker Chemical deeded the site to the Niagara Falls School Board in 1953 for $1 with a liability limitation clause.[11][12] In the “sales” agreement signed on April 28, 1953, Hooker Chemical included a seventeen-line caveat that they believed released them from all legal obligations should lawsuits arise in the future.[9]”

            Hooker Chemical was eventually purchased by Occidental Petroleum which was held liable for cleanup of the waste even though it had followed all applicable U.S. laws when disposing of it.

            New York State Health Department Commissioner David Axelrod stated that Love Canal would long be remembered as a “national symbol of a failure to exercise a sense of concern for future generations.

            Here is a link to an article by Eckardt C. Beck, then the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
            https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/love-canal-tragedy

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “Plenty of companies (and countries) have been destroyed by aggressive environmentaliberalfascism.”

      I’ll agree with you that it’s a thing and it’s real and it’s stupid. But it’s not the issue here. They f’d up, and then they doubled and tripled down on it.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      THANKS OBAMA

      • 0 avatar
        kmars2009

        Let’s all open our history books via Google. Look up President Nixon (R). He was the one who opened trade with China back in the 70s. NOT OBAMA!!!
        Also, who’s one of the first one’s to start producing cars there? GM!
        So give us all a break PHILADELJ…learn your history.
        PS. Ford isn’t much better, moving so much production to Mexico…just like VW.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Nixon was President but it was Kissinger who put the deal together on behalf of Rockefeller (the same who backed Nixon in the first place).

          There were many reasons for this in my view, but ultimately it was in part to plan for the future after Mao who would die within four years of the initial meeting. Funny this meeting also took place a year after the same President broke Bretton Woods.

        • 0 avatar

          Actually, I believe that the first American car company to have a joint venture in China was American Motors. The XJ Cherokee was built there in the ’80s and might still be in production in some form there.

        • 0 avatar
          wmba

          @kmars2009

          And the EPA came into being December 2, 1970 under Richard Nixon, before conservatives had developed reflex reactions to environmental concerns as being anti-business ’cause, you know, we might buy less or do somethuing rational for a change.

        • 0 avatar
          John Horner

          While we are doing history lessons, Nixon also created the EPA by executive order. Congress followed up with legislation much later.

      • 0 avatar
        nerdowell

        ’11 TDI Sportwagen, at the start of this, I thought maybe with some compensation, I’d trade for a GTI. Now, after watching VW go against every known strategy to mitigate a screw up, I’m done with them.

        • 0 avatar
          brettc

          I was thinking about a TSI wagon or a GTI if they made it easy in the fall and offered a trade-in deal. But after about 18 years of being a glutton for punishment as a VW buyer, I’m done with them.

          I’m just waiting for them to buy my car back so I can go buy a Kia Niro when they become available, or any other brand that doesn’t start with a V and end with an N.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I have no idea why I’m bothering to reply to BTSR, but the truth is that his attitude is all to common among so-called “conservatives” out there – as long as you’re making money, it’s ALL good, even if you’re screwing your customers over.

      Forget that VW broke the law for a second. Set environmental regs aside. At its most basic level, VW defrauded its paying customers – its dealers and the people who bought their cars. It advertised that their cars would perform well AND meet emissions regs, and they knew that was a lie. They sold the cars anyway.

      Now, paying customers are left with a subpar product that they weren’t aware was subpar up front. Dealerships – let’s just call them JOB CREATORS – are suffering huge losses because the product they sell is subpar, through no fault of their own.

      And BTSR seems ready to give them a pass?

      Either the man is just trolling (not BTSR…no way…), or he seems to think that it’s OK to screw customers over as long as you’re making money. This attitude is FAR too prevalent among conservatives.

      I’d hate to do business with the guy.

      • 0 avatar

        ANARCHY isn’t just an absence of law.

        ANARCHY is a TYRANNY OF LAW.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Step one: don tinfoil hat
          Step two: drink a 12-pack of Red Bull
          Step three: stand in blazing sun
          Step four: ignore broiling brain
          Step five: watch Newsmax TV for 48 hours straight
          Step six: post as BTSR

          • 0 avatar
            Slave2anMG

            ^this^

          • 0 avatar
            manny_c44

            To the weird ‘liberal’ cadre that haunts the TTAC combox:

            The conflict isn’t just that Volkswagen broke the rules, its whether the rules were just to begin with or not.

            The problem is that the EPA basically singled out VW, as the only serious producer of diesel automobiles in this country and told them, in effect: “you will have to add $2k to the production cost of your cars to meet this emissions demand, pricing you out of your class. Effectively we are taking away 20% of your annual revenue.”

            These rolling emissions demands are updated every 5-10 years and put continual pressure on car makers, who not only need to balance costs but have to develop new technologies to try to get everything to work.

            I’m guessing BTSR probably doesn’t like pollution for pollution’s sake. But here is the take away point, which he doesn’t articulate well but is implied: It would be swell if the car did not pollute at all, but when it acts as such a small producer of a certain pollutant (in the overall scheme of pollution producers, both natural and in artificial in areas such as mass transport, shipping etc) the engineers, scientists and manufacturers producing the car just don’t see a *real* problem in shipping a less than perfect product. There is a *nominal* problem because the socialist fiat forbid them from a certain action…but for serious people, who study hard and work hard to make actual products, who actually apply a knowledge to serve a need, who are working to perfect a product but also have to deal with reality (colloquially known as “people who work for a living”)…the arbitrary emissions goal for this year just wasn’t possible. Maybe next time around SCR will be able to be deployed at reasonable cost.

            This situation is almost entirely political. I do hope that SCR systems become more reliable and inexpensive though.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @manny, the EPA did not single out VW, yes they represent the largest sales of low end diesel cars but they are not the sole mfg of diesels offered for sale in the US. There are others and they have managed to offer compliant diesel engines. Yes many of them are more expensive and thus able to absorb the cost easier but then again VW cheated on Audi vehicles too. GM offers a diesel in their low end vehicle and managed to make it compliant. Mazda had designs for a US compliant diesel and they chose to not offer it when they realized they couldn’t make a compliant version that met their targets for what ever reason.

            The fact is that things change and to keep your business healthy you need to adapt. VW chose to bury its head in the sand and cheat instead of adapt. So I feel no sorrow for them.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            manny,

            that’s a load of horses**t. all the EPA said was “Starting 2008, diesels get no free ride. They have to meet the same emissions standards as gas engines.”

            Done. They didn’t “single anyone out.” I don’t care how much you like VW.

            if the goals were so unattainable, then it would have killed the heavy truck manufacturers and HD pickup market. It was VW who CHOSE to try to do things on the cheap. They wanted to chase sales volume as an ego play. It’s their own bloody fault they priced the cars low enough where they had to cheat to get there.

          • 0 avatar
            wmba

            @ Manny c44.

            To the strange people who inhabit ttac who cannot even check facts, and think that using the label liberal as pejorative means something important:

            All proposed changes to EPA regulations are promulgated, and a time period is given for comments, pro or anti.

            The new regulations were therefore not arbitrary of forced, making the rest of whatever you wrote not even worth reading. If VW had really, really objected and shown why the proposed regs were too stiff and expensive to meet, likely the regs would have been amended.

            No, they just smirked the Ferdy Piech smirk and cheated. Why bother trying to train engineering savages? The whole point of this article, VW hubris.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          … those words you keep using?

          I don’t think they mean what you think they mean.

        • 0 avatar
          Chan

          All these years, I did not know that anarchy and dictatorship are the same thing. Now I know. Thanks!

        • 0 avatar
          Vince Greene

          “environmentaliberalfascism”

          pretty sure fascism is on the right side of the aisle, tiger. Your Boy Trump fits the bill.

      • 0 avatar
        John

        I lean conservative, and am not an environmental radical, but also old enough to remember human waste floating in the local river, and feeling sick every time there was an air inversion that held the un-smogged auto exhaust as a brown cloud over my city. There has to be a reasonable middle ground between being free to trash the air, water, and land ad libitum, and outlawing any productive enterprise.

    • 0 avatar
      hf_auto

      If you really care about worker’s jobs, you can take solace in the fact that VW leaving the market doesn’t change the fact that *someone* needs to build 17M cars to sell in the US. Companies are as replaceable as their workers, and these people can simply go build BMWs or Chevys instead.

      Maybe some retirement accounts will be wiped out, but those people should know better than to tie up their savings in company stock. When this crap happens, you get hit twice as hard.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I’VE been one of those workers who “got wiped out” when his employer decided to go break the law. Just the lost stock options alone probably cost me in the neighborhood of $70-80,000, and I had tens of thousands in a 401k that also went away. Fifteen years later, that translates into a six-figure loss. So, to me, this isn’t an academic exercise – it’s reliving a VERY painful loss.

        No, it’s not a matter of “you should have known better,” because “knowing better” means knowing all the facts. If I’d known my employer was successful because it was cooking the books, I’d have found another job. If VW had told prospective employees that it was breaking the law and was going forward anyway, then, yes, those workers can only blame themselves.

        So, when did VW tell its’ employees that it intended to go all Bonnie and Clyde on emissions regs? I’m pretty sure that memo never got distributed.

        Yes, their employees DID get screwed. And it’s not their fault. You should show a little more humanity. This has real effects on real people.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          The stock options were never a guaranteed source of money. By the time they were available for you to cash in they could have been worthless or next to worthless for so many reasons. That has been the case for a lot of the stock options that my wife has been granted over the years. By the time they were vested they were only worth a few pennies. If they were vested and worth that much then you should have started exercising them.

          It does suck about loosing your 401K.

        • 0 avatar
          RufusFirefly

          You’re absolutely right about the effects on the line workers at VW. The problem here was the VW management chose to violate the emissions standards lawfully promulgated in both the EU and the US. Then, when first confronted about it (by researchers not associated with the EPA), VW lied and doubled down on the lie to the EPA. I’m one of the schmucks who bought a TDI Sportwagen after VW had been “caught” but not publicly outed. I’ve since dumped it for a loss and bought a Subaru. My choice is VW “never again” and they can leave the US and fold.
          What should happen is the lying weasels in the VW executive suite should get long jail sentences and forfeiture of assets. But they won’t. They will get their golden parachutes and die in bed in a five star hotel somewhere.

        • 0 avatar
          hf_auto

          FreedMike-
          What I mean by “known better” is not that employees should know their employers are breaking the law, but that employees in general should not have a large amount of company stock in their retirement/savings portfolio for this very reason. As far as I’m aware, this is common knowledge.

          There’s only one fact that matters about ANY company- there’s a >75% chance that their stock will tank in the next 12 years. Top executives will profit from employee investment in the company, and we take on the risk. If the company folds, they will walk out just before the crash while the workers lose both their jobs AND their savings. Screw that.

          I don’t mean to sound inhumane and I know how rough their situation is, but the recession should’ve opened peoples eyes to the fragility and lack of transparency in their companies. That goes double for VW- they’ve had drama at the board level for YEARS.

          The point I really want to emphasize is: VW employees losing their jobs at VW may be hard, but let’s not conflate that with destruction of jobs. There are still 17M cars that need to be built and they will be able to continue working under a different banner.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        then why didn’t we let GM and Chrysler fail?

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      As has been pointed out elsewhere, everyone else played by the rules when it came to diesels. The Cruze diesel costs more than the equivalent VW, and had to use urea. Mazda couldn’t even figure out how to get their diesel to market. Both of these companies were criticized, unfairly. Why couldn’t they build great diesels, like VW?

      Because VW was cheating.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      BTSR…
      I understand that you like to use the same narrative over and over and if used often enough *some* may start to believe your nonsense.

      VAG has only themselves to blame. Yes, the EPA should have caught them sooner.
      How long did it take the SEC to catch Bernie Madoff? Blaming the government agency is not the answer either.

      VW created this. Were incompetent in reacting and generally behaved as if the world is stupid as evidenced by their stupid idea of adding a screen to the intake or a C.C.

      • 0 avatar

        87 Morgan

        The injustice I see done to the worker is INTOLERABLE.

        simply Jail/Fine those responsible. That’s IT.

        PERSONALLY. Don’t punish entire companies. Don’t ruin WORKER LIVES.

        If you DON’T UNDERSTAND THAT THEN YOU NEEDN’T BOTHER ARGUING WITH ME CAUSE I’M NOT GOING TO STOP SAYING IT.

        If you DON’T LIKE MY POINT OF VIEW, then DON’T BOTHER COMMENTING.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          @BTSR: So you are advocating the removal of the executives/management and replacing them with worker counsels to run the business. Glad to see that you are advocating for Mr. Marx’s solution.

        • 0 avatar
          Hydromatic

          The EPA should do what any self-respecting government agency would do: issue a relatively small fine that represents a slap on the wrist for the company (a few million is chump change to them) and then make it pinky-swear that it won’t do what it did again.

          That way, everything can go back to normal and we can all go back to lusting after Euro Passats and Golf Sportwagens. Easy peasy.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m usually pretty conservative/libertarian, and when I first saw the headlines about VW getting in trouble with the law, I thought it was probably just the government making a big deal about nothing.

      But it wasn’t. This wasn’t a case of the government coming down too harshly on a company that made a minor technical error or had a different interpretation of the law. This was VW intentionally and knowingly designing their product to violate the law.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Correct and that law was designed to put 25% of their US sales out of business. VW was selling on a price point, forcing the level of standard on something sold at the price point forces the price up in order to meet compliance which they chose to forgo. There is no reason to do this for a product which accounts for 1% of USDM sales unless the true goal is to simply make it unaffordable to the masses for whatever reason. This whole scandal is as much to blame on unreasonable regulators as it does on a cheating company, yet I have yet to see the fact VW was being priced out discussed in mainstream media. Cui bono?

        http://spectator.org/articles/64302/no-more-affordable-diesels-%E2%80%94-courtesy-epa

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Fact is that diesels got a pass on emissions for decades. The law was not designed to take away 25% of any companies business and certainly wasn’t targeted at VW in particular. Look at companies that make MD and HD trucks, tightening diesel emissions regulations threatened 100% of their products.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You’re missing the point, it was designed to eliminate the availability of cheap diesel by regulating it for the first time. If diesel were a greater share of the market I could see this need, but it is not and now never will be. This was not a conspiracy against VAG, but unlike other brands selling a diesel product, 25% VWoA’s sales were comprised of diesels. I’m not sure what the cost of compliance per unit would have been, but it would have put a nice dent into VWoA’s sales when they price would go up to compensate for additional emissions controls, so they chose to cheat for business reasons. There is no logical reason to target diesel when it comprises such little market share unless what you intend to do is artificially raise the cost which of course will get passed on to consumers in various ways and thus limit future ownership. Unless diesel market share was projected to climb significantly, there was no reason to do this in the first place. Power plant emissions accounted for 95% of NOx gasses in 2009, if we as a society really want to reduce these gasses passenger cars and medium duty trucks are statistically insignificant.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            No you are missing the point. The point is that diesels got away with lax regulations for decades while the mfgs were allowed to come up with solutions. Some did while VW didn’t. Don’t for a instant think that building an emissions compliant gas engine is not more expensive than a non compliant engine could be.

            Diesel emissions standards were long over due. Too bad for VW that the landscape changed and they couldn’t adapt, unlike every other auto and truck mfg.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            28, the irony that you’re missing is that demand for diesel passenger cars abroad is driven by regulations that have favored them with lowered fuel taxes.

            The United States lacks the key regulatory component that drives diesel demand: a fuel tax structure that encourages diesel consumption. If it wasn’t for European taxation, there wouldn’t have been a reason to bother producing a Jetta TDi.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @scoutdude

            Unless the volume of use increases, there is no need to regulate diesel at all in passenger car or light/medium trucks. Every diesel motor in operation from cars, trucks, tractor trailers, trains, buses, ships, and industrial equipment only comprises 5% of all NOx emissions. The amount produced by passenger cars and light/medium duty trucks (F-350 size class) is statistically insignificant. Period. There is no need to actually regulate it at all in passenger cars and light/medium duty trucks. There is a desire by those who dislike the technology to regulate it which just happens to drive up and the cost and complexity of running the system, which is the point.

            If one is looking to make real gains on NOx emissions, they can be found in replacing coal fired power plants with much lesser gains found in regulating large commercial equipment such as trains, ships, and tractor trailers. If there were to become a time where passenger cars and trucks comprised 5% of all NOx emissions by themselves, I would be in favor of regulation, but it hasn’t happened and likely never will. Regulators seem to have ignored usage data and pursued their own agenda when setting diesel compliance in 2007 (EDIT: it was 2000).

            @Pch

            That’s a good point, I recall reading some time ago in France about the favored tax status and how it was now being revoked. Here’s a link:

            http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-07/france-moves-to-end-diesel-s-tax-break-amid-emissions-scandal

            You’re right in that the US does not have a tax structure (or refueling infrastructure) which favors diesel. Even Chevrolet recently offered one in their Cruze which even in high priced oil in 2014 was selling mediocre at the time. The USDM as a whole in 2014 to now just doesn’t want these as-is, apparently. Given cheaper oil, the shift has been away from fuel efficient vehicles be it EV, hybrid, or diesel back to the “guzzlers”.

            I’ll speculate part of the reason for US diesel regulation starting in 2007 was to allow for the emergence of then much more expensive electric hybrids. I believe the Prius at the time clocked in at 40K before the 10K tax credit, if one could have a Rabbit similar to the one described below stateside for 2/3rd of the after credit cost and achieve technically higher mileage, this could have been a problem for the hybrid technology’s sales. No I am not alleging a conspiracy, but I am speculating regulators had a desire to see the hybrid succeed over cheaper diesel technology.

            “The Polo Blue Motion, unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show back in February, gets about 62 mpg; while this isn’t quite as breathtaking as some of the concepts we’ve seen (like the 157 mpg Loremo), it’s available for sale now (in Germany). Perhaps the most appealing part of VW’s new equation: the bottom line checks in at a shade under $20,000. According to Edmunds.com, this means that “hybrids may be in the limelight right now, but conventional diesels still hold the upper hand when the right measures are applied.””

            http://www.treehugger.com/cars/volkswagens-polo-blue-motion-62-mpg-of-diesel-sipping-fun.html

            “But of roughly 300,000 Chevy Cruze models sold from last July through June of this year, a mere 5,974 were the diesel model–or just 2.0 percent.”

            http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1093610_chevy-cruze-diesel-sales-mediocre-at-best-so-far

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “I’ll speculate part of the reason for US diesel regulation starting in 2007 was to allow for the emergence of then much more expensive electric hybrids.”

            In the US, diesel is subject to the same requirements as gasoline.

            If arguing for affirmative action for diesel engines is the best that the pro-diesel camp has to offer, then they need to find a new campground. It’s a dirtier fuel by nature, and there’s no reason to sacrifice my respiratory system for someone else’s hobby.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          If VW were to get a free pass, then the rest of the industry would be filing lawsuit after lawsuit.

          and LOL at the nonsense conspiracy theory.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I LOL at most of what you post.

            There is no conspiracy against any one company but a simple desire through policy to stifle a technology, a policy which isn’t backed up by statistical need.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            diesel engines are inherently dirty. There’s no debate about that. if they can’t be cleaned up after reasonably, then they need to go. Not give one manufacturer a pass because “it’s too haaaararrrrrd!!” just to please a handful of Internet Car People.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Jim you should probably stop eating then, as the food transport infrastructure is heavily reliant on diesel powered tractor trailers and trains. Just because you think something is “dirty” doesn’t mean it needs to be replaced or disused.

            Btw, they are using DEF in those “dirty” trains now.

            http://www.yara.us/nox-reduction/def-for-vehicles/def-in-railway-trains/what-is-def/

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          VW advertised and sold on eligibility for a tax credit for high MPG super clean cars. With cars that only “met” that standard because they spoofed the test. VW invested in diesel while others invested in hybrid. VW scoffed at them as being intellectually inferior for this choice. While they cheated the test. Prius sold with all those expensive batteries.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Nice post. I don’t know that VWoA scoffed at anyone (I wouldn’t be surprised) but I do know they brought over existing tech they sold in Europe. According to this link, the set limit is 0.2 g/mile NOx which is very similar to the Euro5 standard which came into effect in September 2011.

            Should VAG had invested in hybrid instead? Given the state of the world about 2006 when business planning would have taken place, hybrid technology was not being embraced by VAG’s core markets, so they continued with business as usual. However it seems starting in 2000 the regulators were lining up against the technology and perhaps due to arrogance it was ignored by the company-at-large.

            “However, they were included in the phase-in calculations that required 50% of engines to comply with the final 2010 NOx limit. Diesel engines thus certified were considered to be legally equivalent to a 0.20 g/bhp-hr NOx engine provided they met the 2008 Otto-cycle HDV limits (0.2 g/mile NOx and 0.02 g/mile PM for 8500 lb < GVWR ≤ 10000 lb and 0.4 g/mile NOx and 0.02 g/mile PM for 10000 lb < GVWR ≤ 14000 lb). After 2011, all manufacturers of complete HDVs with GVWR ≤ 14000 lb (primarily heavy pick-ups and utility vans) adopted this optional chassis certification approach because of the heavy-duty vehicle GHG regulations coming into effect for MY 2014."

            https://www.dieselnet.com/standards/us/hd.php#y2007

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_emission_standards

          • 0 avatar
            NickS

            “a simple desire through policy to stifle a technology”

            Okay, but I would expect a technology would have something NEW to offer. Theirs didn’t, in fact it eliminated a new technology (SCR) and/or its duty cycle. Would you still call it stifling? Would you call it stifling if they went after an automaker that made cars powered by bunker fuel?

            As you state, they were arrogant and it has been reported that they scoffed way back when at hybrids and batteries, as inferior, but based on a very narrow world view.

            IMHO, VW’s biggest failure was a combination of short-sighted thinking.

            1- They didn’t recognize the trend for evermore tightening emissions as reason to see deeper into the future and come up with alternative powertrains. They got tunnel vision in the quest to take spot #1 ASAP, forget long term vision.

            2- fleet standards. Toyota could score a lot of credits for its hybrids and not have to dick around to rebrand old tech as ‘Green’.

            3- market growth. Clearly VW captured the small diesel market, but in terms of growing it to a huge success, their execution was errrr, how should I say it, … classicaly VW.

            4- completely ignoring realities elsewhere. The fact that Europe subsidies diesel and practically forces it on the market is completely non relevant in other regions that may not have that subsidy. They took a very euro-centric view of fuel incentives. They were in denial about what exists elsewhere.

            Compare and contrast with Toyota. They bet on the increasing emissions regulations becoming more onerous. They created the market almost all by themselves here, and went on to own it, and expand it. AND they have outsized experience, know-how and future prospects on anything involving electrification for a high volume market.

            VW basically tried to sell kerosene lamps (great and suitable for *specific* applications/uses) to everyone as somehow a universal alternative to a good LED light.

        • 0 avatar
          John Horner

          The law change didn’t single out VW, it simply stopped giving diesels a pass on rules which already applied to gasoline powered vehicles. VW is the one which decided to build a US brand image on affordable diesel technology. Unfortunately, that technology didn’t really exist.

    • 0 avatar
      Avatar77

      Not sure where the heck you got that takeaway from Jack’s writing. VW is a victim of its own greed and gross mis-estimation of what the American market demands. VW comes from Germany, the land of the Green Party, the land of open doors to refugees; i.e., the land of liberalism, and they do just fine there. So take your political missives, put them in your big truck, and be off.

    • 0 avatar
      zerofoo

      Bigtruck,

      I applaud your love of big engines unencumbered by regulatory shackles, but think about what would happen if the EPA backed down.

      VW was pretty much the only manufacturer of a cheap small diesel engined car. All the other manufacturers couldn’t make it happen with the existing regs. VW had an unfair advantage by skirting the rules.

      If those rules were wiped away, it’s not clear that VW would remain successful selling small diesels once all the other competitors entered the market. VW is not exactly loved for their reputation.

      VW’s unfair advantage is now going away. The environmental regs are almost irrelevant here. On a level playing field VW gets their butts handed to them by almost every other manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “Plenty of companies (and countries) have been destroyed by aggressive environmentaliberalfascism.”

      Citation required.

      Please post a list.

      Some sources put Mussolini as the original fascist. I found a translation of his “manifesto”.

      “…Fascism [is] the complete opposite of…Marxian Socialism, the materialist conception of history of human civilization can be explained simply through the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the change and development in the means and instruments of production…. Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect. And if the economic conception of history be denied, according to which theory men are no more than puppets, carried to and fro by the waves of chance, while the real directing forces are quite out of their control, it follows that the existence of an unchangeable and unchanging class-war is also denied – the natural progeny of the economic conception of history. And above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society…. ”
      http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/mussolini-fascism.asp

      “Communism is a socio-economic structure that promotes the establishment of a classless, stateless society based on common ownership of the means of production. It encourages the formation of a proletarian state in order to overcome the class structures and alienation of labour that characterize capitalistic societies, and their legacy of imperialism and nationalism. Communism holds that the only way to solve these problems is for the working class (or proletariat) to replace the wealthy ruling class (or bourgeoisie), through revolutionary action, in order to establish a peaceful, free society, without classes or government.”
      http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_communism.html

      “Unlike the communist system, socialism encourages the reduction, not complete elimination, of class structure. Along the political and economic spectrum, socialism lies somewhere between capitalism and communism, and does not promote a complete lack of government, but instead urges the formation of an environment of sharing and equality among its members.”

      https://blog.udemy.com/socialism-vs-communism/

      Mussolini himself says that fascism is the complete opposite to Marxist socialism. Pinochet’s Chile was listed as a fascist regime. They were neoliberal and based market/business policy upon Milton Friedman’s model. To put a more modern spin on it; George W Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld were Friedman free market proponents.
      Hitler’s Germany on the other hand has been labeled socialist due to their “National Socialism” and name: National Socialist German Workers’ Party. They rejected most of Marxist communist ideology. They tend to be listed as a form of fascism.

      The compass in most sources I have looked at put fascism and communism at polar opposite ends.

    • 0 avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Mama

      My mental image of BTSR (as I haven’t nor ever will look up his self-aggrandizing B.S. on YouTube) is that of the mythical bridge troll, whiling away his days beneath a bridge pressing the Page Refresh button on his web browser to achieve FIRST POST status. A few pithy and idiotic sentiments later he basks in the glow of having made the world measurably stupider and resumes hitting F5.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      This is sort of like a liar blaming the facts for making him lie.

  • avatar
    Storz

    Awesome article, I am on my 5th VAG product and have been a fan for a while now, that said the 2012 Jetta TDI I am currently driving is the last product I’ll ever own from them.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Same. I have a 2015 Golf SportWagen TDI. But I think I’m about done with VW, not because of the emissions scandal, but because the brand just does not have anything interesting. At least when you got a Phaeton (or two of them, if you’re Jack Baruth), you were foregoing reliability and low-cost maintenance for something virtually uncompromised in the luxury realm.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      And that’s a shame, because some of the product definitely deserves to succeed, like Kyree’s Golf. It’s a brilliant car. But would I buy one now? Not a chance. Even if I had confidence VW would be around in a few years in this market, I really, really hate what they did, and more importantly, how they handled it.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      Oh c’mon. Do you guys really think that five years from now if you find yourself shopping a category of cars where’s vw has the strongest product (a golf level gap) you would intentionally buy the car you don’t respect as much? I sure as hell wouldn’t, and yes, vw’s scandal annoys the hell out of me and I think it is a jail worthy offense. For me at least, my personal access to the cars I want far outstrips anything short of the most atrocious behavior. I’d still consider gm, Chrysler, Toyota, hk, ford, and all of them have been involved in recent scandals as well. Most of those scandals had a greater or equal impact on owners, or in the case of the mpg inflation, an equivalent level of fraud from a shoppers point of view.

      I’m obviously fond of their current golf products with two in the garage but it’s not about those cars, it’s about what I can buy down the road. It’s not good for us to have less choice. I’m certainly not going to root for it like some seem to be doing. I will root for jail time however.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    no big loss, and take Audi with you.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      Johnhowwington,
      Perhaps you would feel differently if you worked for them (I do not) , yes VW is a train wreck in the USA and yes I own one , a TDI to boot , but I doubt the Germans will admit defeat and throw in the towel. They have good cars in Europe and have had success here they just need a plan and to listen to what we want, hell even Porsche listen to what we wanted , hence Suvs and almost no sticks in their cars and cup holders. VW will have to write a big check, make right with TDI owners and win back our trust but it can be done, whether they want to is up to them. Audi makes some great cars on par with BMW and MB. I am not really brand loyal but if VW did right by me w my TDI I would seriously look to get my next car from them.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Johnhowington, I agree. Long overdue. The sooner VW vacates the premises, the sooner another OEM, like Subaru or Jeep or Toyota, can take over the plant and increase production of their best-selling vehicles.

  • avatar
    ant

    “environmentaliberalfascism”

    Dude, you’re an idiot.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Some people have clearly overdosed on the Kool-Aid!

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “Some people have clearly overdosed on the Kool-Aid!”

        How do you overdose on something designed to cause death?

        Ideology can cause just as much brain death as “Kool-Aid”.

        Works for Trump.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      Or worse still! Thanks, ant, for pointing it out. Anyway, another brilliant piece by Jack. As the current owner of a really great 2015 GTI, I haves mixed feelings about VAG, but I have to admit that VW never really wanted to pay their dues here. Everyone else who ever succeeded in the U.S. had to. So it’s hard not to respect the Japanese and Koreans especially for all that they sacrificed to get where they are today. Arrogance is a success killer, and the VW folk are nothing if not arrogant.

      • 0 avatar
        amancuso

        The only problem I have with this article is that you claim the Japanese cars have cast-iron reliability. This may have been the case in the 80s and 90s but certainly not today. On the other hand our “cheap” Mexi-Jetta has had 0 issues and just regular maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      It’s BTSR. Just sit back and allow yourself to be entertained.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @Drzhivago138 – “It’s BTSR. Just sit back and allow yourself to be entertained.”

        Kinda like watching a “c” grade horror movie?

        Nah, once you’ve seen real severed body parts the fake stuff is just too laughable.

        Oh sh!t, that DOES explain BTSR!

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    Bravo. For once I completely agree with a Jack Baruth article. I especially agree with the terrible VW dealer experience. Their dealer service departments have as much contempt for the customer as VW itself does. VW just doesn’t “get” this market and doesn’t seem to have any desire to. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Jack. Let me speak heresy. Is it possible to admit that Germans could be plain old incompetent?

    Not good managers and not good engineers either one? Occam’s razor and all that.

    • 0 avatar
      EMedPA

      I’ve never owned a BMW or a Mercedes, but I can tell you that VW has been incapable of engineering robust vehicle electrical systems for at least 30 years now.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      double-plus-ungood management. Ruling with an iron fist, setting unreasonable targets, and fostering a culture of fear which discourages anyone from raising a red flag. “You WILL get the TDIs to meet requirements and you WILL do it for an MSRP of $20,000. If you tell me you can’t I’ll get rid of you and find someone who can.”

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      From my first hand experience: to me, it seemed like the good engineers in Germany end up at BMW or Diamler. The rejects fall elsewhere.

      I was once the topic of a HR inspired ‘performance review’ because I called some Cologne based idiots “BMW rejects” during a conference call.

      Maybe I’m wrong and just salty, maybe I’m not.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        please tell me it had something to do with the 4.0 SOHC.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        For about a decade VW operated a manufacturing facility in Barrie Ontario.

        Executive management was all German expatriates.

        The office facility was 2 storied with the top floor where the executives were housed looking down onto windows over the manufacturing floor.

        The local workers in production referred to that bank of windows as ‘The Berlin Wall’.

        The facility eventually failed due to a combination of disastrous employee relations and senior management inattention/indifference and the ability to produce at a lower cost in 3rd world nations.

        • 0 avatar
          pdl2dmtl

          @Arthur Dailey – Just curios why would you call Canada 3rd world. You live in Canada if memory serves.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @pdl2dmtl – “The facility eventually failed due to a combination”

            “disastrous employee relations”

            “senior management inattention/indifference”

            Here it comes…………….

            “and the ability to produce at a lower cost in 3rd world nations.”

            Please focus on the “AND” part.

            Just like your avatar, the wheels on your post fell off due to inattentiveness.

          • 0 avatar
            pdl2dmtl

            At Lou-BC: the fact that your smart@@ss answer is an attack rather than a friendly remark does not detract from the fact that your intervention is un-called for. To my knowledge “and” is not exclusive. Maybe you should check the Oxford dictionary more often. I can send you one if you wish. Leave my avatar alone and go “bark” somewhere else.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    There’s always an argument for quitting, especially if you feel overwhelmed by complex events.

    I’m not convinced it’s the solution here. As is often the case, the solution goes like this: fix each problem individually, starting with the low-hanging fruit (the stuff you suck the most at). It’s not as easy as quitting, but it works.

  • avatar
    davewg

    Jack, beautifully written and entirely accurate. Best piece I’ve read about this in, well, forever.

    I recently test drove a Golf R (DSG/NAV/DAP). My wife was like $41k? What exactly is that money going towards (as she manually adjusted the passenger seat) she asked…

    I’ll vote double for keeping Audi and letting them expand their lineup. ..

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      I drove an identical Golf R two weeks ago back-to-back with a GTI Autobahn PP. The GTI was a blast, the Golf R felt like driving a tank by comparison, not to mention nowhere as good stereo, no sunroof, and no spare tire despite plenty of room for one (the rear diff clearly does not impinge on the spare well). An extra $8k or more seemed ridiculous.

      Love that GTI, but still not sure I want to give them a penny, and I’m little worried about having fewer and fewer service departments as at least some dealerships inevitably close.

      • 0 avatar
        eamiller

        The S3 is worth the extra $$$ over the Golf R. You lose the hatch, but you gain a much better car. Is it worth the $$$ over a GTI? Probably not if you’re budget constrained.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I personally wouldn’t shed any tears if *all* the German brands left the US.

    However, they do employ a decent amount of people over here so I won’t openly cheer for their destruction.

  • avatar
    ArBee

    “…Continued and uninterrupted reign of incompetent terror since the beginning of the water-cooled era.”

    This. I got a new Beetle in 1968 and loved its unbeatable reliability, its assembly quality and its dauntless winter capability. All that was backed by a dealer organization that was a wonder, at least compared to the Dodge and Ford comedy teams that I was used to. I happily drove the little chugger for nine years, and then, God help me, traded it on a ’75 Dasher, the worst mechanical contrivance that it has ever been my displeasure to own. It was around that time that dealer attitudes changed as well, probably because they were learning that VWoA expected them to peddle rubbish. After two unhappy years, I sold the damned thing, bought a Chevrolet and never looked back.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      During the 60’s and most of the 70’s we had at least one VW product in the family driveway. Multiple Beetles, a Type III squareback and a Type IV squareback.

      It seems that the quality got progressively worse. As did the attitude at the dealers, until The Old Man committed what would now be considered an assault on the service manager.

      The Beetles were practically maintenance free and for the time unbeatable in the snow, as long as you could put up with the lack of heat. The problems with Type IV ensured that no member of the family has purchased a VW since then.

      Of course in the 60’s VW dominated the import market.

      Edit: Sorry, discovered that a new Passat just entered the family (blood relative not immediate)!

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        This. My Deputy Director (a retired Major and now a GS15) refuses to quit daily driving his 74 Beetle. Just won’t die…

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        Ah, nothing like the passage of time to gild the lily. Here in Halifax, VW Beetles rusted like crazy. The entire panel behind the front door beside the rear seat would disappear, and you could gaze at the rear wheel arch or what was left of it. The door card was all that separated rear passengers from doom. The mechanicals would live on in that loud mechanical boxer beat. Then along came official vehicle inpspections, and poof! there went a lot of Beetles.

    • 0 avatar
      Hydromatic

      Seems that as long as it was making dirt-cheap mechanically uncomplicated cars that could be fixed with a flathead screwdriver and a basic socket wrench set, VW was A-OK.

      Maybe the company should go back to building air-cooled flat 4-cylinder engines and put them in small cars with whimsical styling cues. A flat 4-powered Up! should do the trick.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    As always, spot on, Jack.

    You’ve summarized every single “What can VW do to fix itself” thread over on The Vortex for the past ten years.

    The recipe is simple, as you stated, and sister company Audi proved it can be done.

  • avatar
    EMedPA

    Well said, Jack. As a former B5 Passat owner, I feel your pain.

    I still remember to this day listening to a VW service rep tell a young couple that the $600+ labor charges for replacing a blown fuse on their Jetta were entirely reasonable because “fuses don’t just wear out.” Needless to say they did not get their paws on my car!

    The only thing that made owning that car a bit less than a total nightmare was the independent shop I ended up using. These guys have spent over 30 years keeping various temperamental European cars alive, and even they were hard-pressed to keep up with the various worn bits, vague electrical gremlins and trick-but-fragile mechanicals in that car.

  • avatar
    RetroGrouch

    “It would be better for the company to just close up shop in the United States. Sell the remaining inventory, tear up the dealer agreements, and admit on the public global stage that they can’t cut it here, the same way that Peugeot, Renault, and British Leyland did.” – JB

    Ooff! That is quite the punch to the gut.

    I have to agree with most of this rant. I first seriously looked into buying a new VW in the form of a ~1996 Jetta Trek and said no thanks. Instead I went with an 8 year old BMW. With its 80’s German mojo, it lasted more than 300k miles. I have no idea why VWs sell so well in Germany. Maybe it is their version of “GM or death” often seen over here.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    As somebody who has enjoyed (and I don’t mean that sarcastically) 12 years of B5.5 1.8T M/T Wagon ownership (going to hit 153k in the next week or two), my next car won’t be a VW; it’s totally going to be a Mazda CX-5 the second they either release one with Android Auto, or confirm that current stock will upgradeable to it. (It’d be a 6 Wagon if they would sell the damn thing here.)

    The B5.5 hasn’t really treated me terribly. (Needed precisely ONE “you really gotta fix this tonight” repair over all that time; bad alternator, which took about 20 minutes and tools no more exotic than an allen wrench.) But I won’t deny that it’s required WAY more “care and feeding” than my wife’s ’06 Solara over it’s 120k.

    Jack is spot on that VW seems to be utterly unable to understand the US market and Germany is constitutionally incapable of listening to their American employees (or dealers) for insight.

    • 0 avatar
      northeaster

      I’m in a very similar situation, with a very similar 12 year old car from VW.

      Under different circumstances, I’d be quite interested in a new A4 wagon, particularly since Audi seems to be moving towards actual reliability.

      However, Dieselgate, combined with VAG’s cynical need to provide an Outback equivalent at increased cost ($1000 for painting the bumpers and wheel well cladding the same color as the body?), was pretty much the last straw.

      Weirdly enough, when Jaguar offers a Macan-like crossover with a reasonable base price and a 5 year warranty, it becomes much harder to justify supporting Herr Mueller’s shenanigans.

    • 0 avatar
      Driver8

      Yeah I wanted a 6 wagon too, but as the only real wagon contender in the price range, Golf it was to be, and thankfully gas and not diesel.
      It does what it does pretty well with the caveat that it hasn’t even seen its first oil change yet. Time will tell.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    I’ve always found the phrase “superior German engineering” amusing. Something important (reliability and serviceability) must have been lost in the handoff from engineering to production.

    If VW decides to leave the US, I’m guessing there are more than enough volunteers ready to say “have a nice day, and here’s your EPA bar tab. Looks like you owe us $7 billion (before the tip). Thanks for coming!”

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    We’re not normally on the same side of an argument, Mister Baruth, but I find myself nodding in agreement. It’s time for Volkswagen to go. Aside from a blatant disregard for emissions regulations everywhere, the product is simply stale. Volkswagen’s most-competitive car is the Golf family—which is still pricey compared to what you could get elsewhere—and the rest of the cars feel stale next to cars from other brands. In particular, Volkswagen has utterly failed to pay attention to the crossover segments that are important to American buyers.

    The Tiguan looks as old as it is, costs a lot for no good reason, and I don’t think it handles any better than the CX-5 or Escape.

    How many people does Volkswagen think are snooty enough to pay a huge premium to forego the Jeep Grand Cherokee in exchange for the Euro-chic Touareg? The Touareg costs several thousand dollars more, and really offers nothing but the virtues of its longitude-mounted drivetrain. Meanwhile, the Jeep at least has two optional 4WD systems that have low-range gearing (the current Touareg does not), and plenty of features for under $40K.

    Even the Passat kind of sucks. The styling could put you to sleep. When it came out for MY2012, it was a very strong competitor against other mid-sized cars that were at the end of their life-cycles, like the 2012 Altima, 2012 Fusion, 2012 Malibu and 2012 Accord. All of those vehicles were subsequently redesigned for MY2013, and they left the Passat in the dust. Now, the Passat has been refreshed for 2016, and it’s barely competitive, once again. What’s worse, dealers are holding out for every bit of full-price on a nicely-equipped one with the 1.8T, which is something like $32K. I could easily get a mid-spec Fusion, Camry or Accord with the same features for $25K after incentives.

    And of course the Beetle and Eos are a joke, but not the funny kind.

    The only thing Volkswagen had going for it was the TDI range, and now that it’s a farce, there’s really no reason for the brand to remain on our shores. When the only brand envying your sales success is Fiat, it might be time to make an exit.

  • avatar
    smallblock

    The Ruby Ridge reference was a nice touch, Jack.
    I hope they stick around, but my wife’s Touareg’s frequent expensive trips to the dealer were why I chose a Focus ST without even considering a GTI.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    You hit the nail straight on the head. This is an excellent review of Volkswagen’s history in the old Estados Unidos. I’ve purchased several in the past, air-cooled’s from ’70 to ’81 and liquid-cooled’s from ’75 to ’89. The change in the quality/dependability of their products and attitude/responsiveness of their dealers after the introduction of liquid-cooling was very noticeable and drove me away from the brand 25-years ago. VW still suffers from the old Henry Ford syndrome – successful for a long time with the same car – started to believe in their own PR as being smart and clever (multiplied by deutsch arrogance) and, thus, were way behind the curve when entering the more “mainsteam” market with many different and more advanced models for the US. The change in VW dealers attitudes show this same belief in the VW PR/arrogance. VW did very well when they only needed to produce two basic models for world-wide sales – it was a hell of a lot easier to tweak a vehicle designed in 1938 for an additional 35 years than to develop something newer every five years or so. I don’t believe that they’ve yet figured that out for our market expectations. I’ll shed no tears if they decide to depart our shores.

  • avatar
    NotFast

    Great article!

    However, Audi does reliable cars (or so says Consumer Reports) – why can’t they take that know-how over to VW?!

  • avatar
    geo

    Im pretty sure that Volkswagen partially ruined my childhood. My low-income father bought a Rabbit Diesel, believing he would save money on fuel. He did, but nearly every month the car had to be expensively repaired by Valley Autohouse in Abbotsford . . . from axles, to alternators, glow plugs, shocks. He then bought another Rabbit diesel, believing it was an anomaly. It wasn’t. We would have been far better off with most used malaise-era domestics of the day. At least Rabbits were fun to drive.

    The last Rabbit my father finally gave away after spending thousands replacing nearly every part. The next owners apparently got 200k of nearly trouble-free driving.

  • avatar
    Charlie84

    Is this the support group for recovering VW fanboys? I’d like to sign up.

  • avatar
    motormouth

    I reckon that, despite tanking numbers, there’s too much future value in the US market for VW to pull out.

    Not saying that there’s not a guy in Wolfsburg right now hammering numbers into a calculator, balancing costs with existing investment, but there’s just too much potential wrapped up the American market not to fight for a piece of that pie. Sure, VAG screwed up big time, but so have all the other carmakers at some point and they’re still there.

    As for dealer issues, I don’t see how that factors into VW running back to Germany. Clearly the writer feels aggrieved, but I’ve a couple of Mexican-built Jettas in my past vehicle history and while the dealer experience was never great, it wasn’t wholly bad, either.

    • 0 avatar
      amancuso

      I find that the VW dealer experience varies widely from dealer to dealer, much like the American car dealer network. Once you find a good one, you hold onto it.

  • avatar
    210delray

    Ah yes, 1975. I bought my first new car then, a VW Rabbit, because I thought it was superior in packaging and performance to the rear-wheel drive competition. It was fun to drive all right — when it ran — and passengers were amazed at the rear seating space.

    Its color was lemon yellow and it turned out to BE a lemon. (Or rather as bad as all of them.)

    Then I traded it in on a baby blue Westmoreland Rabbit, the first-year ’79 model.

    Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!

    No VWs since, and I am glad.

  • avatar
    Notadude

    So, where do we all go from here? I keep wanting to want a Honda (Civic or Fit) or a Mazda 3 instead of my Golf TDI, but what hatchback has seats as good as the Golf’s? That may sound petty, but I traded in a Mazda 5 after 3 years because the seat was so atrocious I ended up needing medical care for effed up veins. I agree with you guys who are done with VW, but I don’t know what else to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      V60?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Try a Ford Focus – outstanding seats, far as I’m concerned. And I had no complaints about the Mazda’s seating.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Seats are different for everyone. I don’t like the seats in either of my Mazdas, but otherwise the cars are brilliant. I love the seats in the GTI, but limitations on option packaging have kept me from pulling the trigger.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I’ll second the Focus. I’m picky on seats and find Ford seats agreeable. I can’t remember the last Ford vehicle were I didn’t like the seats.

    • 0 avatar
      Storz

      I’ve had 4 BMWs and all have been spectacular. The highest mileage one had 276k on it (95 540i) and ran like a champ. BMW is where my money shall hence forth be spent

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      F450 Platinum

      Since you like diesels ;)

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Really? I have a Mazda 3 right now and for a seat with only basic manual control and no adjustable lumbar, I’d rate it as one of the more comfortable that I’ve sat in for extended periods.

      Funnily enough, I find the fixed-back racing seat I use in my S2k to be my most comfortable of our 3 cars and 4 seats I have available to me.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        I still love the seats in my ’04 Mazda3. I didn’t like the Mazda5 seats though, and neither did my female companion, who we were shopping for. It was bad enough that we declined to even test drive it. Sitting in it for thirty seconds was enough. This was almost ten years ago, so I don’t remember any details other than that they felt like they were sloped backwards, with the front of the seat cushion lower than the back.

  • avatar
    Ltd1983

    Fantastic article, that neatly sums up why VW is going to die in the US.

    They’ve never been remotely reliable enough for me to recommend to mainstream “consumers”, and never interesting enough for me as an enthusiast to put my money own down. Dieselgate is just the last nail in the coffin of the failed VW USA experiment.

    I have twice in the last decade been interested in a TDI VW, both times, on totally unrelated issues, I couldn’t even test drive one because a stop-sale recall was in effect.

    No bueno VW. Adios…

  • avatar
    jonnyanalog

    I agree with Jack 100%. VW makes up about 2% of the market, IIRC. They won’t be missed.
    However, what erks me to no end is they have the Gaul to come out and say if you fine us too much we will be forced to cut jobs which will have massive social impacts globally. Talk about passing the blame off. It’s their own arrogance and stupidity that will cost jobs globally and ruin hard working families. F VW. They need to be knocked off their high horse.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I agree. And VW isn’t just holding their workers hostage, they’ve already cut 3,000 admin jobs in Germany.

      Forget the fines, all it does is harm consumers, workers, and other businesses. Just throw some of the VW executives in jail. The next batch will be a lot more prudent in their oversight.

  • avatar
    ismasl

    Hello all transanlantic neighbours, from Europe.

    I do belive that VW problem in NA lies on the fact that our car markets are quite diferent.

    We have at home a 2009 VW CC 1.8TSI very high spec, automatic parking, lane departure, navigation 5″, radar cruise control, leather-ish, 18 inch wheels, sunroof, electronic dampers… it was about 43000€ when new, 10.000€ in options that is 1/4 of the car in options. 33000€ is expensive, in the US will be about 40000 USD, but this is because we pay a lot of taxes. So, once we have thought on parting with 33000€ in a car 10000€ is a strech but not as much as it will be in the US. Same maths in the US will be 23000usd for the car and 10000usd for the extras.
    Same story with our other car, a 2014 Golf Variant, 2.0TDI with every option is 38000€ from a 31000€ car.
    On the other side, I do think that Euro buyers in general take more into acount fit and finish, even over spec lists. Which I guess it makes sense if you are willing to keep the car for more than 7 years, wich hapens way more ofthen than it does in the US.
    Will you be willing to pay 60000USD for a 1.8 4 cilynders even with every toy in the market?
    By the way I have 250000km in my CC, only problem a wather pump leaking a tiny bit, only change it because it was under warranty. But that is another story.
    Please excuse my por englis, not my first lenguage.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      The idea that Americans dispose of their cars quickly while Europeans keep them is not supported by the facts. In truth, both markets are pretty close, but the average age of the US fleet (11.7 years, last time I checked) is actually one year OLDER than the European fleet.

      And I know that the average time any given car is retained by it’s owner (whether purchased new or used) before they sell or otherwise dispose of it has also been on the rise.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        Exactly, the average age of the US fleet is over 11 years right now. The Europeans have myths about the USA, just as the Americans have myths about the Europeans.

        Fit and finish when new has about zero to do with reliability. As VW has amply demonstrated, let alone the other Germans. The BMW 1.6 liter diesel fiasco of an engine, nearly always a topic on Pistonheads being just one case.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      that’s mostly a result of Piech setting sales targets to be the #1 automaker in the world by volume. Their cars play in the most saturated, hotly competitive segments of the market. In order to get the volume Piech wanted, they had to compete on price. So we got down-market penalty boxes instead of the halfway-decent cars the RoW gets.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    Every time I have gone car shopping I have considered a TDI, but never pulled the trigger until this time due to some need for performance/cost that a diesel didn’t provide. Now my vehicle requirements can be best met by TDI. Never before have I had a vehicle where, come replacement time I would be comfortable to walk into a dealership without cross-shopping and just tell them “more of the same”. Then dieselgate comes along and wrecks everything.

    More on the topic, there is nothing money won’t be able to solve. The question is will VW be willing to put up enough money to solve it (notice I didn’t say “have”)? We have to keep in mind a lot of what is going on right now is posturing on both sides: “We could fine you a kajillion dollars”, “Well then we’ll take our ball and leave and put lots of American taxpayers out of work”.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      That’s what it seemed like to me as well. We got an implication from carb that the maximum amount has been discussed in their otherwise closed door meetings. Why that is surprising or new is beyond me. Doesn’t that have to be a part of those negotiations? I’m eagerly awaiting the insider tell all of the whole thing to be honest, but there’s not really a lot to go off of right now. I want sordid stories of stuffy Germans doing tone deaf battle with environmentalists, but the truth is likely to be a lot more mundane and boring than that.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    Maybe Im just lucky. I bought my daughter a new Rabbit in 2008. Eight years later it has 130,000 miles, has never been into a shop for repairs, and is still more fun to drive than anything in its class from Asia or N. America. In Sept I bought a 2016 Golf Sportwagen SE tsi. The new MQB platform works way better than anything from the competition, the 1.8 turbo gets mpg like a diesel while making lots of power, and the infotainment system with Android Auto and Car Play is amazing. Admittedly the rest of their lineup is crap but IMHO the MQB is well worth having.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      You weren’t just lucky, your Rabbit has the 5 cylinder engine and Rabbits/Golfs/Jettas running that drivetrain have received far better reliability scores than their late 90s/early 2000s predecessors. Will it last to 200K with as few headaches as a Toyota? Who knows, they’re not old enough yet, but you chose the VW with the best odds of making it over the long haul.

      It says something about the reliability reputation of VW that as a satisfied owner for 6 years I’d still be nervous about buying a new one unless I had a good 4-5 years of reliability data from CR to look at.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The fines and lawsuits aren’t gonna chase them back to Germany, if VW jumps ship. Those are in the hundreds of billions, all together and more to come. Of course VW would have to take Porsche and Audi out with them.

    Plus present and future lost sales? The answer is clear.

    So sad, but there’s plenty of classics left behind. The best years are behind them anyway, “Air Cooled” and whatnot.

  • avatar
    bufguy

    The 1985 GTI a bad joke???….Why? It was actually a great car. Yes made in Westmoreland, but the interior was infinitely better than the MkI’s from their PA factory.The car had a nice interior 100hp 1.8 engine, which was more than competitive, solid, roomy and handled great.
    What VW did with diesels was despicable but as a guy who has owned an 80 Scirocco, 86 GTI, 88 GTI16V, 90 Corrado, 93 Fox and currently an 81 Scirocco S, I loved each one.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    I don’t want to see VW exit the market any more than I wanted to see GM and Chrysler disappear. The effects of a VW pullout wouldn’t be as severe but would still be significant.

    If they would just come to /some/ sort of agreement and start addressing the non-compliant cars, I think they’d rescue some goodwill. EPA and CARB have even stated they’d accept partial fixes on some cars. But the more they stonewall, drag their feet, and make vague threats, the less people will care about them.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I was telling my co-worker they should pull VW out and bring in Seat.
    ALL THE WAGONS FOR EVERYONE!

  • avatar
    Sam Hall

    “This is the world heavyweight championship of auto markets.”

    I wonder if it still is. Even here in DC unionized government employee-land, I see more and more subcompact cars, and more and older used cars, on the road every year. New car sales seem to be sucking air, just keeping the factories running. I suspect the bottom will drop out in the next year or three. Asia may be the future of the car market.

    • 0 avatar
      motormouth

      One word – China.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        And the prevailing wisdom 25 years ago was that Japan would be the number one economy in the world by now.

        Just sayin’.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          FreedMike – A few years ago I read that the top economies were to be China 1st, India 2nd, and Japan 3rd. USA was supposed to drop to 4th.

          A wild Trump card might be played and make or break that list.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Lou
            Seeing both Donald and Hilary are going to ” rescue” the US Automobile industry, from rapacious foreign interests. It will be interesting if they succeed in making it a lot smaller than it is now. Some of their rhetoric, is going to upset people in Canada and especially Mexico. Goodbye NAFTA?

    • 0 avatar
      210delray

      Not a proponent of American exceptionalism, but our population is over 320 million and continues to grow. New car sales hit an all-time record last year at 17.5 million. We’ll remain one of the most important markets for years to come.

    • 0 avatar
      RufusFirefly

      If you read Warren Brown in the Post, he continually laments the average cost of new vehicles. According to him, DC and a few other large metropolitan areas have the average income necessary to comfortably afford that average price. That is why new car notes are extending to 84 months. A bubble may be building.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I wouldn’t say it’s time for VW to go, at least not yet. But if they don’t nut up and stop the duck-and-f**k they’re engaging in now, they’re gone.

    If they keep that up much longer, they won’t have the chance to salvage things. If you want a car that “drives Euro,” there’s a Ford dealer right down the street from you with a whole lot full of Focuses, Fiestas and Fusions. If you want a sporty compact, you can shop Mazda (or, to a lesser extent, Kia or Subaru). VW makes some great stuff, but it’s entirely replaceable.

    Ball’s in their court.

  • avatar
    JimInRadfordVA

    Volkswagen’s demise is due to stale styling, mechanical unreliability and expensive repairs. These come about from VW’s culture of arrogance and group-think.

    They’ve been riding on the ’60s Beetle’s success and for better than 40 years, we’ve been letting them do it. Had we held their feet to the fire at the beginning of the water-cooled era they might have been able to adjust. It was just too easy to internalize that they were better than what the American auto manufacturers were offering at the time and coast from there.

    Much like the 1940’s era Pacific Fleet, they never saw the Japanese coming.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d modify your statement a bit – it wasn’t the “beginning of the water cooled era” that killed them. All through the ’70s and ’80s, they were selling the heck out of Rabbits, Golfs and Jettas. I’d say the real decline began in the ’90s.

  • avatar
    Lemmiwinks

    A copy of this should be printed and left on every desk in Wolfsburg.

  • avatar
    SteveRenwick

    DEDjr his own self could not have said it better. Well done.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    The Jack Baruth leg-humpers are out in force today, but really…publishing an anti-VW tantrum on TTAC isn’t much of a high-wire act.

    There are no $32,100 228is. There are no $35,000 GLIs. There are no $40,000 C-Classes.

    What VW brings is innovation at the lower price points. They have work to do. They have made mistakes. They are at a low point. That is all true.

    What will domestic cars, Japanese cars and Korean cars (wanna-be-Japanese cars) at the lower end of the market look like here in five years if they don’t have VW to crib innovations off of?

    If VW left here five years ago, we would have no Mk7 GTI. But we would also have no Focus ST or Fiesta ST. The upcoming Civic Si would be a timid POS like the 2012 one was. How many hatchbacks would even be offered on the market? Toyota has been making the same three engines for the past ten years, but if there were no VW over here, nobody would even be asking why Toyota is still making the same three engines, and they could do it for 20 years. Interiors could all be hard plastic and noisy, and that would be just fine.

    I want VW to get well again and do well here, because when they do well, they make great cars that are different from anyone else’s. Innovation drives progress, and nobody innovates at this end of the market like VW. And all the bile and invective from the self-reinforcing TTAC B&B doesn’t change that.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Sport compacts wouldn’t exist if VW had left five years ago? I don’t think so. The reason all the sport compacts you mention exist is because the market for that type of car exists. If it didn’t, then VW wouldn’t have been selling GTIs in the first place.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        “If it didn’t, then VW wouldn’t have been selling GTIs in the first place.”

        VW created it. And the GTI has always (except for a few years) been the bellwether of the class. The ST and the Si are the way they are because the GTI is the way it is…not the other way around.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      What’s wrong with Toyota making the same 3 engines? Those old school engines, particularly the trusty old V6 (which is really only 10 years old) are as powerful as any of the new high tech stuff from others with zero of their problems. Seriously, a Camry V6 blows the doors off of anything with a 2.0T in its class while getting the same gas mileage. If it ain’t broke why fix it?

      And it’s not really innovation if you fail to execute, as VW has done pretty much every single time from the MKIV era up until the MK7 era. What good is

      – having the first turbo engine in a class (1.8T) when they were gummed up with sludge?
      – having the first turbo engine in the performance class in a long time (2.7T) when it came with turbo failures that prompted dropping the engine to replace?
      – having great interiors when the cars were completely unreliable? (MK4)
      – introducing new tech like direct injection, only to muck it all up by not sussing out carbon buildup, or the myriad of other issues (cam follower wear, PCV issues)

      It’s like VW comes up with great ideas, and then uses their customers as guinea pigs to suss out the problems. Then when they figure out the problem, they come up with a new idea with a whole new set of problems. No. VW has made some good cars but the way they treat customers and completely disregard reliability and quality control is downright unacceptable. It’s a shame because they JUST got their stuff together. But even with that, they still lied, defrauded and were indignant about it. They absolutely deserve to fail and for the most part have been a net negative in the US auto market.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        “Seriously, a Camry V6 blows the doors off of anything with a 2.0T in its class while getting the same gas mileage. If it ain’t broke why fix it?”

        Unfortunately not even Toyota is listening to that one, with the truly great 3.5 in the Camry getting replaced by a 2.0T that looks to be fully underwhelming. They even neutered the Tacoma with by replacing the torquey 4.0 with a high strung 3.5.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Well it probably doesn’t do as well in environmental regulation tests. But it’s on the nose with performance and fuel economy.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Yes, that’s the annoying thing. The 2.0T will put out better paper numbers than the 3.5 for regulatory reasons but that difference probably won’t be realized in the real world.

        • 0 avatar
          Fordson

          High-strung? Every other 3.5-3-8 liter V6 sold today makes more power. Would this one make more power with DI? Yep…but it’s taken 10 years for Toyota to even start rolling out DI – so yeah, I guess getting that stuff sussed out was a real challenge, huh?

          Edmunds’ Tacoma is markedly slower than their Colorado was, cycles back and forth between the top two gears on the highway, and is getting about the same mpg as their 5.3 liter Silverado did. Would it do better with an 8-speed rather than a 6-speed? Especially since this is an all-new vehicle (well, not really…)? Sure. But that’s really out on the bleeding edge, I guess. And I do agree the new Toyota corporate 2.0T is underwhelming – it’s in no way comparable to those made by VW, BMW or even Cadillac, in power or flexibility, probably because those makers have a lot more R&D time on DI/FA under their belts.

          Also noted by Edmunds: “Toyota is the last major automaker with no announced plans to support Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.”

          It’s a good thing that in 1949 people were willing to take a chance on Cadillac’s and Oldsmobile’s high-compression V8s, even though they would not run on kerosene anymore. Glad people were willing to give the Hemi a try in 1954. I think some of the folks here would have rushed out to buy up the last 1927 Model Ts when they heard the A was coming.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            “High strung?”
            Yes, apparently the low end grunt is gone. It wasn’t a statement on the peak hp number but where in the rev range the power is delivered now.

            Your tone is so universally belligerent I can’t tell if you are annoyed by my comment or just wanted another stab at Toyota.

          • 0 avatar
            wmba

            @ Fordson.

            The new Tacoma V6 does indeed have DI. Plus port injection. It’s called the D4-S system, what they put on the Lexus. It’s tuned for more low end grunt than the Camry V6, and has more 17 more lb-ft of torque, 265 versus 248.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      what “innovation?”

    • 0 avatar
      Hydromatic

      At the Atlanta Auto Show last week, I personally sat in a CLA-class Mercedes with an MSRP of $33k. That’s Acura TLX money.

      A well-respected German marque that sells $100k+ S-classes and G-wagens dipping its toe in the near-luxury waters? It happens, all so that Mercedes can hoover up the schmoes in the cheap seats who want to impress their friends by flaunting The Badge™ in hopes that those same schmoes get better-paying jobs and move up to a E-class lease, at the very least.

      Someone somewhere pointed out that VW did pretty well in the near-premium niche market that Subaru currently occupies. All it has to do is focus on improved reliability (preferably to Toyota standards) and bring back those premium interiors.

      As for Toyota’s move towards turbo fours, that’s what the entire industry’s doing. All for better fuel economy and to avoid the inevitable negging the buff books will give Toyota for sticking with an ancient powerplant. Remember when people here gave VW guff for the 2.Slow? Is anyone really impressed with VW’s Ye Olde Five Banger?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        “dipping its toe in the near-luxury waters?”

        This must always have added context with “In the US.” In other countries it’s possible to get very basic cars and trucks from Mercedes. The luxury high-end was something they had in the US from the beginning, and only after that have they started drifting down for greater volume.

        Think about how long it was before they sold a cargo van here branded as a Mercedes.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Harsh, but accurate, though I think VW has some of its best product ever either out or coming soon. The Golf is a $25K S-Class; every bit the dynamic equal of a Mazda 3, but quieter and with a huge, meaty, satisfying torque swell to surf once the turbo spools. GTI is the class benchmark by a country mile- the dynamic and performance equal of anything in its class, with refinement that shames cars $10-15K more expensive. Next Tiguan looks to bring all that Golf/GTI goodness to an emasculated man appropriate package.

    Yea the Jetta and Passat are downright cynical in their cost cutting, and short sighted as much of the competition becomes what they used to be (!!!). CC is not even worth talking about. Touareg is in no man’s land- a tribute to bad overengineering with a prole badge. But man, the MQB VWs are worth the company staying in the US alone. I don’t know that I could put my wife and kids in a Tiguan but pretty much the only thing south of an M235i I would consider replacing my Civic with, other the 9th gen Civic Si, is a dad edition (4dr) GTI PP with an honest to God stickshift and mechanical LSD. I’m OK with the S trim- I’m still wowed by Bluetooth integration. Nothing else combines the tastefully clean looks in and out with performance that bests my old 350Z and legitimately seats 5.

    VW is like how I imagine dating Rihanna to be. You know she is crazy and no good…. but she’s got that sex appeal and bomb you know what that other girls just don’t have, and can’t replicate or convincingly imitate (looking at you Hyundai/Kia).

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The Golf has it all over the Mazda3 in terms of refinement, but it’s not the Mazda’s dynamic equal…not by a long shot. The 3 has more direct, linear steering and far sharper “reflexes.”

      I’d say the Golf plays C-Class to the Mazda’s 3-series (at least previous-gen 3-series, anyway).

      Still, the Golf is a brilliant piece of work, and the market would be poorer without it.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Perhaps the higher trims are better, but I have had a Golf TSI rental and currently have a 3i rental. 3i drives very similar to the Golf, minus the torque. Gas mileage is the same between the two on the same route for me. Steering is just as aloof and the chassis is just not that good. No tail action, no trail braking, just washes out into understeer when pushed. Again maybe the 3 2.5 is better, but that thing costs GTI money and if you want driver thrills I think the choice there is obvious. This will sound crazy but my 09 Civic (and its 12+ successor) are way more engaging than either the 3i or Golf.

        But yea, the current Golf is easily the best Golf ever and it’s a real tragedy that it has been overshadowed by this nonsense. VW deserves it though.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          That’s an interesting assessment. Keep in mind, though, that a fully loaded 3 hatchback with the 2.5 – sunroof, nav, (faux) leather, Bose stereo – will definitely go for GTI money, but it’s *BASE* GTI money. A similarly equipped GTI four-door hatchback will easily reach into the low $30k range.

          My left brain preferred the Golf (at least until this stupid scandal) and my right brain definitely prefers the 3. The Mazda likes to play; the Golf doesn’t.

          Having said that, though, I’d actually pass on the 2.5 in the 3. It’s a lot more money for not much more power. I think the 2.0 is the better deal and you don’t lose much in the way of handling, and the ride is better.

          If you want to cheap out, you can get the box-stock 3 with the plastic wheel covers for like $17,000 and it comes with pretty much everything. That’s a ridiculous bargain.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            My rental is somewhere in the middle. It has alloys, the tablet (no navi though), and stuff like lane departure warning. I really like the refinement and the features… makes my Civic seem ancient by comparison.

            But dynamically I am just not sold. Maybe it is the 65 height tires? But I had 60-65 height tires on other FWD cars and they gave back way more in steering feedback. Civic is no exception, especially now with the DWS06s I have on it. Civic 4 wheel drifts where this and the Golf plow, and the Civic seems to use more rear brake under threshold braking. Admittedly my Civic has hydraulic P/S so that is a huge part of why steering feel is so much better. But even still, the 3’s steering is on the level of the steering in the Golf. It just doesn’t egg me on anywhere near as much as people claim it does, or like my Civic.

            I agree though that the 2.0 is the better buy and with a $500 tune makes the same power as the 2.5 (on 91 fuel) anyway. For my $$$ though, a leftover Civic Si sedan or the $10K premium for a similarly equipped 4dr GTI PP is worth it. I am really disappointed because I heard so so so much about the 3 and I thought it would deliver.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      sportyaccordy, the problem is that most of the Volkswagen lineup is insufficiently hot to justify dealing with the crazy. De-contenting the Jetta was the equivalent of the formerly hot-crazy girl aging a decade and gaining 20 lbs. Still crazy, but no longer hot.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        This is an apt analogy. The Golf is still hot though- probably hotter than ever, and potentially much less of a PITA.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        I agree with sporty accord on the mqb cars without reservation. The jetta and passat, otoh, are drivetrain cars right now. That’s not a bad thing, but if you look at what sells in their segments drivetrain excellence doesn’t really come into the equation. Reaching too far too soon on engine tech is a classic vw hallmark in the modern era. That’s really where Jack’s perspective on vw goes off the rails. I’d argue that the w8, w12, and v10tdi did more harm than good to vw in the us. He may have been attracted to that product, but the 2.5 was a far better move by the brand.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          The W8/W12/V10TDI were niche and had limited impact. The FSI engines (2.0T all the way up through the 4.2 V8), the sludgy MKIV 1.8T, the failed turbo 2.7T, the “non serviceable lifetime” timing chain with the failing tensioners backed up against the firewall 4.2 V8… these are all major issues that affected regular cars. The 2.5 is OK… my wife’s Rabbit has one…. but it is a heavy iron lump that gets abysmal gas mileage and doesn’t really give you anything back for it. I have to rev my Civic a little harder but my Civic handily blows it out of the water performance wise with less HP and much less torque.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      “…an emasculated man appropriate package.”

      Coffee spit-take…thanks!

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Toyota’s lean production method directly impacted VW’s fate in the US market.

    One of the implications of lean systems is that they allow for frequent model changes. The old European approach to production quality — design something until you get it to some optimal level, then keep making it with as few changes as possible for years or decades thereafter — doesn’t work when Toyota is changing out drivetrains every 8-10 years while offering two models that each include mid-cycle refreshes over the same period.

    Without a fundamental shift in how the Germans approach engineering problems, this deficiency isn’t going to change. And they have a not-invented-here mentality that gives Americans a run for their money.

    • 0 avatar
      Dingleberrypiez_Returns

      I may be wrong here, but I was under the impression that Toyota kept their drivetrains in action for much longer than German manufacturers. Toyota has historically been very slow to employ new transmission or engine technologies. They took way longer than anyone else to put out mainstream turbo or CVT cars, and their “new” models have often just been reskins of the previous generation. Meanwhile VW is switching between 4 and 5 cyclinder engines, bringing out dual clutch transmissions before anyone else, etc. At least that’s my perception.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Toyota has had all kinds of turbo cars, they just haven’t offered many of them in the US. That’s more a function of the market than of the technology.

        The standard Toyota four-cylinder engine family used in the US has had seven generations in the last 35 years.

        • 0 avatar
          Fordson

          “The standard Toyota four-cylinder engine family used in the US has had seven generations in the last 35 years.”

          Oh, stop. They redesign a cam follower and call it a new engine.

          The power ratings on their 1.6, 1.8 and 2.5 liter fours have not increased in 10 years. They’re good engines for what they are, but they’re dead in the water.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Germans aren’t disciplined when it comes to lean. I can guarantee most 1st year platforms in the EU have prototype tooled parts on it. Something on the magnitude of ~15% part content being off soft tooling.

      Honda has leaned out APQP to the point of essentially landing all prototype issues on the tier 1 supply base. Toyota I imagine is close behind.

      US OEM’s have adopted the product cycles, but haven’t figured out the ‘design it and leave it alone’ approach that works so well with shorter product timelines.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        Illuminating,

        Perhaps HondaAcura could have spent a few more bucks themselves on the TLX when it came out, rather than relying on suppliers. No way that thing was fully developed. Took until the 2016s finally appeared before the problems were ironed out. On the acurazine forum, there are a lot of people highly teed off with their ’15s. They go drive a ’16 and its so obviously far better. But Acura maintains the ’15s perform “as designed”, further annoying owners. “As designed”, then, the ’15 is rubbish.

        So I’m not so sure that Honda is all that wonderful first year, whether made on proper production tooling or not. Changing that must really cost when errors have been made.

        • 0 avatar
          tresmonos

          I learned all this as I was dating a very talented automotive engineer who worked for a large Honda supplier in SC. She indicated the massive strategy change was going to be for some product lines in 2015 and phased in for other product. I can’t remember what product line she was PPAP’ing at the time.

          The TLX would make sense – it was a new model line being launched at the time.

          RIP Honda new model quality. No soft tooling – just CAD to hard tooling. Over time, I bet they master it. Complexity will likely be further reduced. A lean approach.

          Our time together usually was us just ranting about systematic issues regarding OEM’s varying APQP hindrances.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’ll agree with Jack, when VW whole lineup was designed and built in Germany and it was the same as their European lineup with only federalization of engines and safety standards I could rationalize why someone would buy a VW and put up with all the other BS. Now that their FWD lineup has beam axles in the rear and is built in Tennessee and Mexico like everyone else’s North American lineup, what’s the freaking point?

    You can get greater reliability, a better dealer experience, and greater sportiness other places.

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    This article is a very fun read and definitely expresses feelings on VW shared by many. That being said, despite the questionable product quality/desirability, and VW hubris in the US, their decision to pull out will be entirely based on economics. This article doesn’t make a convincing case that the money isn’t here for VW, and I don’t think any of us know enough about VW’s finances to draw that conclusion.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Build cars with cast-iron reliability and sell them dirt cheap until the public realizes how good they are, at which point you can raise the price.”

    As you alluded, Hyundai/Kia has done this quite successfully. And I agree that VW will NEVER believe they need to crawl through the same Shawshank Redemption pipe as those mfrs have.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    This does sum up VW better than anything else here, where they do good work < Golf, wagons, GTI, they do very well, the other stiff not so much but maybe just maybe they can get it right.

    VW is like how I imagine dating Rihanna to be. You know she is crazy and no good…. but she’s got that sex appeal and bomb you know what that other girls just don’t have, and can’t replicate or convincingly imitate (looking at you Hyundai/Kia)

  • avatar
    BerlinDave

    A-Fucking-Men, very well put. Me thinks that the problem is somewhere along the line that people (in Germany, at least) accept dismal service and quality and VW, like many other manufacturers think that their lousy service will be accepted everywhere. Not sure about VW but if you have a problem with your new BMW or Mercedes in Germany it is a fucking toll call to call the manufacturer for assistance.

    People here pay it and think that is the way it is supposed to be.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I think there is real danger that these events won’t just cause VW to leave America, but to liquidate entirely, with other automakers picking up the scattered remains. Globally we’re already looking at over $30 billion in potential liabilities with far more to come. That is huge money even for the world’s largest corporations. Ford mortgaged absolutely every asset it owned to get itself less than $20B to survive the recession, and lenders are going to be far less willing to deal with an established fraudster.

    In a liquidation scenario, I don’t know what the fate of the VW brand would be, but any products made under it would surely be very different. The Audi brand would survive, probably owned by a Chinese or Korean company, and might do very well if given freedom to work like Volvo is enjoying. Porsche would once again become independent and would have to survive by sharing parts with larger automakers. Bugatti and Bentley = bye bye.

    • 0 avatar
      qfrog

      Hard to do that with Porsche when their volume vehicles Macan and Cayenne are Q5 and Q7 platform shared. Porsche and Audi would do well to remain together for the sake of Porsche’s profitability. Simiarly we have the problem of Audi and VW, where the small Audi products are VW based so the Q3 is harder to justify when it is all on Audi to foot the bill for developing the MQB (modular transverse toolkit) which probably isn’t a small bill. The A3 which in the US is like 20% of the Audi volume is there too, can’t have a good A3 without a great Golf to base it on otherwise there might not be much profit in building and selling smaller Audi products which makes it harder to get volume by appealing at lower price points.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        We’d see the same sort of transitions that we saw with Land Rover as it switched owners. Land Rover went from BMW hardware, to Ford hardware, to its own hardware. Audi would go from VW hardware on existing platforms to (say) Beijing Automotive hardware, heavily influenced by the inherited VW hardware and massaged by Audi engineers. MQB is here now, and it should be good for a decade or two while the brand figures its stuff out.

        You might be right that Porsche would be better off staying in a relationship with Audi, but they could share basic platforms from just about any automaker for the CUVs and make it work.

        • 0 avatar
          qfrog

          The PORSCHE + AUDI livery from the 917/30 was no joke.

          MQB went into production in 2012 I think, we we are already a good ways into the shelf life of the platform. The eighth generation Golf will suffer from the cost of the TDI disaster, so that may see the MQB not evolve as rapidly as it otherwise would. That matters when other mfgs benchmark the MQB but don’t have to pay for playing a bit too fast and loose with the regulations.

          What I think is super critical right now is the new Tiguan being a success for VW in the US. If that goes badly things are going to get a lot more bleak. IF that launch goes well VW may be able to tread water a little bit longer, shed some stupid product offerings and re-assess as they pay off their diesel debts.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I imagine if VW went under it would either get bailed out by Germany or bought out immediately. Their problem isn’t product; it’s purely personnel. Liquidation would enable a purge and picking up all their assets for dirt cheap.

      I just caught a chill as this thought passed through my mind. Sergio must be SALIVATING. He is probably robocalling creditors as we speak. An FCA/VWAG buyout would be the absolute end of days, but is a stark possibility. The Trump election of the automotive world.

  • avatar
    George B

    The obvious solution is to rebrand the GTI as an Audi. I bet lots of the required parts already exist in the A3 parts bin. GTI plus Audi and an entry level A3 captures the successful Volkswagen product in the US at price points where even stubborn Germans can make money. The Volkswagen brand brings little to the table compared to Audi for the US market.

    • 0 avatar
      qfrog

      The Sportback 8P A3 was basically just that, a four door GTI in Audi guise. It didn’t sell well enough in the US. The 8V A3 is now built for the US as a sedan because that appeals to this market better than the hatchback does. The US only gets the equivalent to VW’s GTE as the A3 etron as a hatchback.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      The Volkswagen GTI brand is absolutely blue-chip. They would have to be insane to roll all that up into an Audi model name that is a blip, recognition-wise.

      Or Audi, which with the exception of the TT, have their own quite rigid nomenclature and model structure, is just going to come out with an Audi GTI that competes against its own A3?

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    Figures that I have to buy my first modern VW last year (2012 Beetle Turbo 6MT) right before this happens. But I have to say, the car is brilliant and has really grown on me. I originally bought it because it was the most interesting commuter pod I could get for the price, but I have to say I really enjoy this car and it makes my commute fun. Its actually in the top list of cars I have owned, and I have owned alot. The combination of fun and fuel economy has been great. Hope it lasts.

  • avatar
    Chan

    You don’t mess with the US Government at the highest levels and with the highest possible amount of visibility.

    VWAG will learn their lesson quickly enough. They do not have the same influence that they do in Europe.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Getting turned down by a woman happens. Not really a biggie. They are like trains. Sooner will be along later.

    You had no business being rude to your waiter.

  • avatar
    GermanReliabilityMyth

    People are choosing to get swept up in this; a scandal, told by idiots, full of sound and fury, with complaints signifying nothing.

    My 2014 Jetta Sportwagen with the 2.5 liter 5 cylinder is bar-none the best car I’ve ever had. I’ve owned Jaguars, Acuras, Toyotas/Land Cruisers, Volvos, SAABs, Buicks, Hondas, Suzukis, etc. The Volkswagen thoroughly outclasses them all. That 5 cylinder engine is a shining pearl mounted in the crown perched atop the VAG. Dead reliable with about 9,000 miles on the odometer, excellent efficiency to power ratio, a cabin like a sensory deprivation chamber and handling characteristics for even the most distinguished canyon-carver. Subjectively, it’s downright alluring. More often than not, I’m craning my neck to catch a glimpse of that Tornado Red silhouette in the grocery store parking lot.

    VW, please don’t go. We’re wrong and we’re sorry. Don’t listen to our negative comments spoken out of hurt. We can change and we can make this work.

    Just don’t leave us.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Fellow 5-cylinder Sportwagen owner here. I agree it is a superb vehicle (so far), but a couple of points.

      9000 miles (on a 2014, really?) is absolutely nothing to brag about in regards to reliability and I expect a half dozen well-earned comments pointing out that only a VW fan would do this. The upside is I’ve got 74K trouble-free miles on mine, so you should be able to brag a bit more effectively in the future!

      VW abandoned that shining pearl for a 1.8T of undetermined reliability. Considering their past performance, I would be surprised if it lived up to the 5-cylinder’s repair record.

      I applaud VW for making this car, but if they are going to survive here they need more excellence than this and as one of the world’s largest automakers they have been strangely unable to do so.

      • 0 avatar
        TOTitan

        I own one of each…a 2.5 in my daughters 08 Rabbit and a 1.8 tsi in my 16 Sportwagen. The tsi rocks, especially with a Neuspeed power module which bumps the HP up to 200 and the torque to 250. Needless to say the 1.8 can run circles around the 2.5. Time will tell on the reliability.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          The 1.8 is lovely to drive. The 2.5 is lovely to own. Time will tell if the 1.8 can be both.

          I’d be more worried about my transmission running 250lb-ft through it from an aftermarket tune. Sounds like a fun almost-GTI wagon though.

          • 0 avatar
            qfrog

            A GTI wagon is what I want but VW does not build for the US. They build a GTD estate for Europe which is kinda almost the right bunch of parts but not quite.

            My last car was basically an ’03 GTI wagon and it lives on at 180k miles under the ownership of a co-worker for driving when it is not a Panigale day nor a Multistrada day.

          • 0 avatar
            Driver8

            Don’t forget mileage. I’ve seen as high as 38mpg highway on 87. Not too shabby.

          • 0 avatar
            TOTitan

            Yep its fun to drive alright. The Neuspeed power module isnt a tune but is simply a module that goes between the turbo and ECM that makes the ECM think the boost is 5 lbs low so the ECM raises it by 5 lbs. If the car needs to go to the dealer you just unplug and go. Apparently 250 lb ft is well within the safe zone for a new tiptronic ans I use sport most of the time anyway so the shifts are quicker and firmer.

      • 0 avatar
        GermanReliabilityMyth

        30-mile, thanks for the thoughtful response. I enjoyed writing a response with tongue so firmly in cheek, it broke clear through the other side. :)

        I put a great deal of research into the purchase of my 2.5 JSW and am fairly certain it’s the best way to own a VW with some assurances of reliability. Since the 2.slow was off the table from the start, the 5 cylinder was the real choice for me. Best of all, I enjoyed the aural and dynamic qualities it lent over the ill-fated TDI.

        9,000 miles is obviously nothing to crow over, but I look forward to many more miles of trouble free operation. If nothing else, it came with a free lifetime powertrain warranty!

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      9000 miles? Be still my beating heart! LOL

      My horrible B5 Passat experience had nothing to do with the engine (1.8T) but everything to do with cost cut parts everywhere else in the car that failed with reckless abandon.

      I was a member of VW forums if for nothing else to get advice on fixing the myriad of bizarre issues with my B5. I can recognize the fan boy excuses from GermanReliabilityMyth a mile away.

    • 0 avatar
      Jgwag1985

      My sister-in-laws Passat VR6 4Motion spent 42 days in service department during first 9 months of ownership. Total POS. First the headlight, next up navigation system inop(whole unit replaced), engine (you know the 3.6 with all those problems). Engine replaced. Got it back, month later transmission gone. Even the replacement transmission, needed a replacement(dealer had car, did not return car with bad replacement trans, 2nd replacement trans was good). After that engine coolant leak. Total pos. She will never get a VW again. Oh yeah 9k miles. Junk, junk, junk.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      The 2.5L is the best-known example of a “reliable gasoline VW engine.”

      It sits alone, at the top of the heap of all of VW’s other questionably engineered powertrains.

      • 0 avatar
        GermanReliabilityMyth

        Yep, that’s why I got it. The joy of VW ownership with the minimum amount of hand wringing about reliability. The 2.5 is a dwarf among the height impaired.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      You know there are Battered Spouse Support programs in your region, right?

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I’m amazed that a company can become successful enough to be at the top of the world market pyramid and still do something as stupid as willingly cheat on emissions tests and continue to sell those cars for 8?! years without thinking they’d get caught and that the consequences wouldn’t be absolutely enormous.

    I’m genuinely pleased with my VW and would be a bit sad to see the current Golf platform leave, they are excellent cars. The attributes I value in my VW–excellent driving position and ergonomics, above-its-class interior, responsive handling, rock solid highway demeanor, usable rear seat & cargo capacity–have been difficult to find together in another package. But that won’t keep the brand alive in a market that snapped up the 2012 Civic, 132hp CVT Corollas, and $189/mo Altima leases.

    VW has taken only half-hearted stabs at the North American market and unwise outlier customers like myself can’t keep it alive.

  • avatar
    Jgwag1985

    I’ve owned 2 Volkswagens (bought new). I would not shed a tear if VW left the US market. Terrible overpriced service. Didn’t honor warranty pre dieselgate. Good riddance.

  • avatar
    cwallace

    Jack could post his grocery list online and I’d read it.

    If he posted his liquor store list, I’d read it twice and take notes.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    I think Volkswagen’s main issue here has been and likely always will be reliability (or lack thereof). Even non-car enthusiasts know Volkswagen usually equals lots of expensive problems. The last VW product I’d trust is an original Beetle, and they’re super rare now here in the U.S. since people kept them as long as they could.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Automotive success is probably far too complicated for such a reductive argument. Ford and Chevy sell well and their aggregate brand reliability is below that of VW in CR annual surveys, and Mazda sells far below Honda despite having identical ratings.

      • 0 avatar
        zoomzoomfan

        I’d say Ford and Chevy sell well because of some Americans’ remaining “Buy American!” mantra. That, and nearly every GM vehicle has tons of incentives and low prices to begin with. VW probably sells well in Germany for the same reason. And, Honda outsells Mazda for the same logic: blind brand loyalty. Americans are equally as passionate and stubborn about what they will buy as they are about what they won’t. “My family has had Hondas for 35 years and they’re the best!” “Have you heard of the…” “No! I want a Honda.” Same with Toyota.

      • 0 avatar
        hybridkiller

        “Ford and Chevy sell well and their aggregate brand reliability is below that of VW in CR annual surveys, and Mazda sells far below Honda despite having identical ratings.”

        I believe you can also add Hyundai to the list of worse-than-VW for brand reliability in recent years. This is funny to me as Ford and Hyundai are frequently offered up here as more reliable alternatives to VW. And just to add my anecdotal 2 cents, 78K flawless miles here on a ’12 Golf TDI.

        The decisions currently being made at VAG with regard to the TDI scandal are driven by one thing and one thing only – trying to appease the (remaining) shareholders. I’m not saying whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing for the future of the company, but it is the reality.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    “They have Germany, they have Europe, and they have all their little protected markets where people still buy brand-new 1982 Quantums at full price. Who needs America?”
    They have a lot more markets than Europe and the US is one of many markets

  • avatar

    “Ten years in the desert. Well, the Israelites had it worse.”

    Better than being a slave. This Israelite thinks we got a pretty good bargain. Forty years in the desert in exchange for freedom, the Torah, the land of Israel and still being around over three thousand years later (despite mighty efforts to the contrary by some pretty powerful entities)? I’ll take that deal.

  • avatar
    Project337

    THIS! Thank you Jack. As a longtime VW owner, I tell anyone interested in one of their cars that VW ownership is a sickness. Doesn’t stop me from continuing to own their products, but unlike a lot of VW shoppers, my eyes are wide open. I wasn’t so surprised when the emissions scandal broke, because they are so indifferent to the VW faithful. It’s such a damn shame because you know they can actually build decent cars.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    but what will all the hawtie latina medical receptionists drive while theyre saving up for that BMW lease down payment?

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Jack,
    Was your date/mate male or female ;)? Remember what mates do biologically.

    It seems you omitted this important part of the story.(joke, for our more serious TTAC submitters).

    Oh, did you send the “Texas Edition” plaque via air or sea?

    Air takes a couple of weeks and sea takes three months!

    I’ll be heading off soon and it’s a shame we couldn’t of had a Texan BBQ with all of the “winners”. It could of been a fantastic party.

    Thanks again.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    This statement from the article;
    “It’s a tough path. It requires massive talent, unwavering commitment, and deep pockets. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

    I think this is the most significant point made. This isn’t just relevant to the US, it is relevant to all markets for ALL and any product ever made.

    This is the problem confronting FCA. Mercedes Benz didn’t realise this either when it had Chrysler.

    FCA pricing is good, but their product’s reliabilty, quality, etc are very inconsistent, even within models.

    VW need to have a closer look at themselves. Bullsh!t and spin can only go so far. Sooner or later the marketing department will no longer be able to pull the wool over the consumer’s eye.

  • avatar
    wmba

    When the EPA/CARB approved fix forecast costs are in, when the likely DOJ-fronted EPA court fines for cheating are clearer, and some accountant works out the likely costs of private suits, VW will have an idea of the financial crush to remain in the USA. Oops, I forgot the possible criminal charges from DOJ and every state AG intent on polishing their image.

    Balance all that over likely profits for the next 20 years in the US market, including Audi and Porsche. If highly negative, VW will close shop one night and the Germans will just leave overnight by plane and let the US chase extradition and money. That is the way to survive as a company if needs be. Refuse to pay. Ferdy Piech would approve, and to drive the point home, stop making spare parts specific to US models. Because, he’s just that kind of guy.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    If they did listen to Max Hoffmann and made a major break through, they’d take all the credit anyway.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    Jack wrote a good story.
    Lots of interesting comments.
    Maybe VW can do an astonishingly good epilogue.

  • avatar
    hybridkiller

    “This is the world heavyweight championship of auto markets. It’s the place where Lexus was born and where Hyundai has risen to prominence. If you can’t make it here, it’s just a matter of time before you can’t make it anywhere.”

    I said something to this effect in a comment (which was summarily dismissed) a while back in one of these overly dramatic VW scandal discussions, suggesting this is the most compelling reason a complete VW pullout from the US market is highly unlikely. I stand by that prediction. As well, I believe this talk from VW about possibly abandoning the US mass-market is theater (most likely a trial balloon) aimed at shareholders and various government plaintiffs. Time will tell.

  • avatar
    Jeff Zekas

    Well said, Jack. We owned 4 aircooled Veedubs, a diesel Golf and a Jetta. After the diesel cracked its block and the Jetta fried its electrical system, we converted to Toyota and Subaru.

  • avatar
    spoonie

    Delivery of my Golf R occurred about two weeks before #dieselgate.

    I don’t regret the purchase at all; it’s a brilliant car – especially in Ontario winters.

    Granted, I’m a simple guy that doesn’t harangue too much about things that are completely out of my control.

    Would I buy another one? I’ll cross that bridge when I’m ready.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Jack Baruth nailed it. I rarely find myself in 100% agreement with him, but this time I do.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States