By on September 22, 2015

Are those tall buildings or are you just happy to see a 2009 Volkswagen Jetta [sportwagon]? (courtesy motortrend.com)According to the LA Times, Volkswagen’s falsified emissions data made certain 2009 model year vehicles eligible for a $1,300 green car subsidy. That subsidy, applicable to 39,500 Jetta and Jetta Sportwagen units sold, equated to a total of $51.35 million available to buyers from the government.

The LA Times used Internal Revenue Service data and Motor Intelligence, an automotive industry research body, to calculate the numbers.

The $51 million in total tax credits is just another case of automakers leveraging dumb government money to incentivize consumers to buy their vehicles.

A few points of note in the LA Times piece:

“It is really unfortunate,” said Luke Tonachel, director of clean vehicles and fuels project at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The government has been effective to help advance clean technologies, but it is a waste of taxpayer dollars when they aren’t actually helping to clean the environment.

The Volkswagen diesels qualified for the federal incentives in the same year the automaker first installed the software trick it used to cheat on emissions tests.

(Emphasis mine.)

This is likely not the first case of Volkswagen (or automakers in general) taking money for green initiatives and cutting a corner or two along the way, but it feels like a cheap bar trick where a perpetrator asks an unsuspecting patron if he’s willing to make a $20 bet on whether he can get all the water out of a glass without touching it, or something.

The problem is this time it’s the government asking, “Hey, does anyone have any cheap bar tricks to show me?”

Volkswagen certainly does.

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34 Comments on “Volkswagen Pulled Cheap $51.35 Million Bar Trick in 2009 Based on False Emissions Data...”


  • avatar
    APaGttH

    VW is so FUBAR.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    VW will have to repay that, with penalties and interest. There goes another few hundred million bucks.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    They’re lucky that subsidy wasn’t more popular.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “it is a waste of taxpayer dollars when they aren’t actually helping to clean the environment”

    Please, it was yet more corporate welfare. When VAG pays it back it will go back in the fund to be distributed to Tesla.

  • avatar
    GermanReliabilityMyth

    Geez, everyone’s acting as though VW has written the book on defrauding the government and the buying public. This has been going on for centuries upon centuries. Now, this version is a little different, but folks have dredged up examples where Volvo, GM and Honda tried cute tricks with emissions controls on their vehicles. Other companies have taken government “green”backs and abused it, Fisker being one example. I’m sure someone who’s better-versed in internet sleuthery can share an example of another vehicle manufacturer using government money to incentivize sales.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Ok so VW pays that back , but I assume they can not make the folks who bought a 09 give it back so when the complain that the reflash will cost them mileage they have a extra $1300 to go toward Diesel. This 51 million is the least of VW issues right now, I have not seen a breakdown of the models by year but it seems the newer ( 2013 and up) have a system setup that uses a separate tank to clean the tail pipe so a Flash may be fairly easy, the 09-12 do not have that so the fix will be much harder for VW, do not know how many cared that is.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I sometimes wonder how 600 HP sports cars pass the emissions tests.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      They pass it fine.

      As far as I’m aware, Ferrari et al aren’t faking emissions tests. Frankly, when you pay for a 600hp car, you’re kind of expecting either the engineering to make it happen or (in some cases) that the noncompliance fines for things like CAFE are simply rolled into the MSRP.

      This isn’t about passing or not passing the tests. This is about faking a pass so that you can save money on not actually engineering the car to pass the test.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      600 hp sports cars also don’t use diesel.

      Gasoline engines produce very different emissions and require different treatment.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    All of this is happening because the government decided to involve itself in regulating automobiles.

    If they’d stick to national defense and catching murderers and car thieves like they’re supposed to, everything else would take care of itself.

    • 0 avatar
      kmars2009

      Regulate auto emissions and safety. If not, we would have smog as bad as China. Get it right!
      Plus, cars are safer than ever because of regulations.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “All of this is happening because the government decided to involve itself in regulating automobiles”

      All this is happening because VW decided it would be cheaper to commit fraud than to engineer their cars to genuinely pass the tests.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        You’ll have to forgive OneAlpha. Apparently he takes the Tea Party mantra to the maximum limit.

        Ironic that he is posting here using infrastructure that was heavily subsidized by the government, and apparently is passionate about cars. That means he drives on government provided roads, which receive government provided maintenance, and government provided safety features like guard rails and stop signs. Socialism sure does suck!

      • 0 avatar
        TDIGuy

        “All this is happening because VW decided it would be cheaper to commit fraud than to engineer their cars to genuinely pass the tests.”

        Not so. Their cars will pass the tests and they did. They were just programmed to run different when not being tested.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I wrote it yesterday, I’ll write it again.

      I for one do not long for the days of the brown cloud that hung over Houston less than 20 years ago. I for one do not long for the days where air quality in Houston was so bad, that my wife at the time made 5 trips to the ER in a single summer and we were told by two physicians her choices were basically move or die.

      I for one do not long for the days of tributaries into the Great Lakes catching fire because of so much industrial pollution.

      I for one do not long for the days of Love Canal, or the cesspool that was Boston Harbor.

      I for one do not long for the days as a kid having to run home for my life when the town sprayed insecticides to control mosquitoes and gypsy moth caterpillars because the pesticide used was so toxic, it would make humans sick.

      As has been pointed out there was this guy, his name was Reagan. Reagan was convinced by evil, awful, terrible environmentalists that CFCs were destroying the ozone layer. If we did nothing we’d have cataracts by 30 and would have to wear SPF 8000 to go outside. So Reagan, and the EPA, decided to take a lead. CFCs were banned (over simplifying) and freon was no longer used as a coolant in most cases. The standards were adopted largely (again over simplifying) the world.

      End result – the ozone hole that developed over Antarctica has consistently been getting smaller, and the earth’s ozone layer has gotten better. We still damaged the layer, evident by increased skin cancer rates despite the fact we are a fat, lazy, sedentary society glued to our tablets, computers and TV. Outside time? Ha! Nothing like when I was a kid and I was kicked out of the house at 9 AM and told to come back for lunch, kicked out again and told be home before dark – and we didn’t wear any feckin’ sunscreen.

      Now given my father was a 3+ pack a day smoker, and the insistence on some that second hand smoke is as safe as mother’s milk, I had a 3+ pack a day habit by proxy for the first 13 years of my life.

      My…lungs…are…TRASH. I get bronchitis or pneumonia just thinking about it. I have to use an inhaler at the gym, never picked a damn butt up. So sorry, I kind of care about clean air.

      You apparently never lived, saw, or were old enough to remember when the air in US cities was Beijing grade. I do – and some of it wasn’t all that long ago.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I said it with the GM ignition scandal and I will say it with the VW diesel scandal. They are not the only ones cheating to meet regulations (be it emissions, or otherwise). They are the ones who got caught, just like GM. Remember, in business, like sports…..if you aren’t cheating your aren’t trying hard enough.

    Every one of our favorite automakers has probably multiple skeletons waiting to burst out of the closet under the right circumstances. You don’t sell millions of consumer products subjects to volumes of regulations worldwide which travel at high speed alongside millions of other consumer products piloted in part by complete morons without cracking a few eggs in the process.

  • avatar
    z9

    Hey, I got that tax credit in 2009! Then due to a crazy but in retrospect somewhat familiar-sounding software issue, VW ended up letting me trade my car for a 2010 model so I took the tax credit again the next year. The tax credits probably paid for the cost of the out-of-warranty repairs that might have otherwise turned me into a non-VW customer for life. Wolfsburg, I’m still here for you. I love the way you, as our favorite car dealers like to say, are willing to do what it takes to earn my business.

    But just to be clear: this tax credit was, like Cash for Clunkers, a Great Recession era economy boosting program primarily about fuel efficiency, not emissions (technically it was known as the “lean burn” tax credit). I’m pretty sure it applied to Prius buyers as well. So I’m not sure what people are complaining about exactly. At the time, the EPA fuel economy ratings of the 2.0 liter TDI were said to be understated from real-world numbers (VW tried to use other numbers in their advertising, remember?). Maybe now we know the car’s awesome software had something to do with that?

    I understand the bitterness flying toward VW from all directions right now, but I don’t think they did anything wrong in this case.

  • avatar

    Don’t be surprised if shareholders conclude that it is best when Porsche, Bugatti and Bentley will no longer be associated with VW diesels.

    PS: “incentivize”?… I guess one is never too old to learn.

  • avatar
    John

    Four little letters – R-I-C-O – let the federal government take everything. Everything. Down to the last penny and paper clip.

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