By on October 9, 2015

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI

Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn told a congressional committee Thursday that the fixed diesel cars would achieve the fuel economy figures advertised on the cars when they were purchased as new.

“We know we can fix these vehicles to achieve emissions standards,” Horn said.

Horn said that performance such as horsepower and torque for the cars could be impacted, but by keeping those cars at or above advertised mileage, the carmaker could mitigate damage brought by forthcoming class-action and federal lawsuits. 

Horn said the cars, which were fitted with illegal defeat devices beginning in 2009, would need a wide range of fixes to bring into compliance those cars. Newer cars would need a software update, older cars could need a combination of hardware and software fixes.

Horn said newer cars could be fixed as soon as early 2016. Older cars could take several years to fix.

Rick Wynkoop, a Denver lawyer whose practice specializes in automotive cases — specifically Lemon Law — said Volkswagen delivering advertised mileage would be a good offensive move for the automaker as it looks to keep a flood of class-action cases at bay.

“Would it mitigate damages? Certainly, if there are damages at all,” he said.

Wynkoop said he does not represent any Volkswagen owners in pending cases against the automaker.

He said quantifying damages for owners whose cars have been fixed and still deliver advertised mileage could be difficult. If a fix reduced mileage, it would be a simple calculation to determine real damage. For example, if the fix reduced fuel efficiency from 45 mpg to 40 mpg, the owner could claim real damage based on mileage.

It would be the same for resale value as well, which may be hard if the market for used Volkswagen diesels are all over the place. Any dip in power and performance would qualify as damage, but would be harder to quantify monetarily, Wynkoop said.

Wynkoop added that pending Volkswagen lawsuits could target non-economic damages, which could range from adverse health effects to psychological damage.

The early lawsuits against Volkswagen covered a wide range of territory, he said, from fraud to breach of contract and consumer protection.

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17 Comments on “Meeting Advertised Mileage Could Save Volkswagen Money...”

  • avatar

    Those VW that have the cheats are still on our roads rolling coal.
    With every press of the pedal, the entire Earth dies just a little more. They also need to be automated. So go f*** a tailpipe if you love cars so much. Your love for cars doesn’t supersede the lives of 1.2 million people who die in automobile accidents every year. It’s not more important than the energy savings we’ll get from not manufacturing 60 million or so vehicles every year that spend most of their time idle. Turned off. Parked.

  • avatar

    As previously pointed out around here by a few readers, the fix is going to be at the expense of horsepower and torque. I’ve got to go back a read some of the early posts again because some readers just got some street cred points from me.

    So the new nationwide rolling roadblocks are TDI’s after VW fixes them.

    I saw a TV ad on the nation’s top cable news channel early this morning ran by a very well known injury lawfirm wanting TDI owners to call and join a class action lawsuit. They’re saying what I’ve been saying all along – that TDI owners are going to take a bath on the resale of these cars. Not just a bath but they’re probably going to drown in the bath.

    We should have already done this but investing in popcorn stocks seems like a wise move.

    • 0 avatar

      The hi-po cars of the ’60s got stifled by pollution controls in the ’70s and somehow recovered from that. I’m fairly confident that history can repeat itself.

      • 0 avatar

        Completely different situation. The stifling emission laws of the 70’s affected every manufacturer.

        Here we’re talking about one manufacturer and that manufacturer cheated. Lied. Sold cars on a lie.

        I’m not so sure they make a complete recovery from this.

        • 0 avatar

          Oh yes, by all means, from a business standpoint, this could be it. Just speaking from a mechanical standpoint, it’s similar, but yes, even if the engines recover, it’s moot if the public doesn’t want to buy them.

          • 0 avatar

            And another thing.

            The entire brand is damaged by this. If they cheated a lied about this, what else are they lying about?

            Maybe the safety restraints don’t work right. Maybe the gas engines have something hidden in their management computers. Who knows? Would I take a big monetary gamble on it?

            Time will tell. Right now, I’d bet against the whole brand.

            They need to hurry to satisfy TDI owners. Were I them, I’d take them all off the road. Replace them with something else. These lawsuits are going to cost. Big.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      “As previously pointed out around here by a few readers, the fix is going to be at the expense of horsepower and torque.”

      We don’t know that for sure. Emissions and mileage tests mostly ignore full throttle, so max horsepower and torque may not change. We will have to wait and see (if anybody still cares by the time the recall happens).

    • 0 avatar

      Something tells me that drivers of 138hp diesels will hardly notice when their engines are retuned to produce 125hp, or whatever it ends up being.

      As for these cars being “rolling roadblocks,” they will still achieve top speeds far in excess of the highest legal speed limit in the United States.

      I think you’re being a bit overly dramatic, but that’s just my opinion.

  • avatar

    If the resale values are taking a bath, I don’t see it. In the market for a wagon and the TDI’s asking price have not come down at all. Find me a under 10 yr old TDI wagon under 100k miles for less than 10k. I will buy it now.

  • avatar

    There sure is a lot of extra drama surrounding Dieselgate as well. The Congressional thing was humorous on both sides. You could tell the d-bags in Congress had no real background on it and were going by what they saw here and there on the news or web…BBC did a cool test just last week where a Ford Focus diesel and Passat diesel were driven around with test gear and BOTH were putting out 4 times what the Euro spec was in the lab. The Focus was actually a worse offender as a percentage of its specified number.

    I think VW getting caught/admitting to a defeat device is going to still result in findings that are not ‘favorable’ for other diesel automakers like BMW, MB plus Ford and GM/Opel in Europe. A lot of “40 times the NOX” numbers get thrown around with no actual proof either – real world effect on pollution? Probably VERY minimal vs Chinese industry emissions.

    In the end, it’ll all show that diesels pollute a little more but still emit less CO because they simply burn less fuel per mile. LITERALLY pick your poison…NOX, CO, etc, etc…

    As long as the EPA leaves me and my 2015 RAM 1500 EcoDiesel alone to get my 23 combined mpg in a 5,800 lb vehicle, I’ll be happy.

  • avatar

    does anyone else see the logic in a fix or fixes that will take a year or more to implement? can you all spell d-e-p-r-e-c-i-a-t-i-o-n?

    we know what the fix is and we know we can fix these cars and they will meet mileage estimates and emissions too. buuuuuut there may be a slight problem with power and/or torque and you will no longer get the mileage you once received.

    got an issue with that? want to sue? nothing changes until the fix is applied. 1.5 years from now that car is worth substantially less.

    what’s that you say? you wanted to trade it in but were fearfull of the trade in value? so sorry but it is hard to quantify a) intent to sell, b) actual decrease in trade in value, c) actual losses suffered. you want to be part of a class action lawsuit? the line starts over there please……!

  • avatar
    Nick Engineer

    “Horn said that performance such as horsepower and torque for the cars could be impacted, but by keeping those cars at or above advertised mileage, the carmaker could mitigate damage brought by forthcoming class-action and federal lawsuits. ”

    It boils down to this: Owners have been getting much better than advertised fuel economy. The only claims VW made in their advertising and marketing materials is horsepower and torque at the flywheel, and fuel economy. Customers may have been getting much higher fuel economy due in large part to the disabling of emissions controls, but as long as VW manages to meet the advertised numbers which are lower than what drivers actually experienced, they will pretty much neutralize the basis for most lawsuits.

    This will be relevant to owners who expect some form of compensation for the difference between what they are used to and what the VW marketing materials claim. So far, it was to the owners advantage (more power, higher fuel economy). After the fix, they will most likely get what most any driver gets: roughly the advertised fuel economy give or take a couple of MPGs. As for power (measured at the flywheel by the way) it may not be too far off the advertised, and if you account for various measurement factors it may not translate to a whole lot of exposure.

    VAG has learned this game very well over several years with their various issues (water ingress, sludge, defective camshafts, etc). So, VW, nicely played (if it comes to pass), but kiss your customer loyalty and brand reputation goodbye.

  • avatar

    And how many on here would actually buy a VW even if this had not happened? Sorry, I can’t take anything the TTAC “B&B” have to say on this subject remotely seriously, the audience has been too clearly biased for too long.

    Compared to the Takata airbag and GM ignition switch fiascos that actually cost identifiable people their lives, this little pollution scandal is simply not remotely anything to get excited about (and I don’t care a whole lot about those either). VW did it, they got caught, they are going to pay. The cars might lose some tiny amount of power and torque with the fix, which anyone who cares will fix with an aftermarket tune anyway, or in most cases by simply skipping the recall. End of story.

    • 0 avatar

      As the owner of a 2013 Passat TDI that my wife drives (I drive a Jetta) I’m taking a wait and see approach on all this stuff instead of freaking out over it. Then again, I’ve never considered my self to be part of the B&B.

    • 0 avatar

      Definitely not a B&B member. Ownership of a VW wagon that’s neither diesel, nor manual, nor brown, nor Saab, nor AWD, nor W8, and doesnt go 600+ miles per tank most certainly has me barred for life.

      Anyway, I’ve driven diesel. But I don’t get the fascination. That said, sympathies to formerly non-smug VW TDI owners who deserve it right now (I’m sure there are a few of you out there!).

      Would I still consider VW? Sure, I’d love a GTI or GLI. 2.0T of course.

  • avatar

    My guess is that mileage might not matter a damn if the only practical way to engineer a fix that passes muster will yield a vehicle which can barely get out of its own way. (Those with Westmoreland Wolfsburg Edition memories may lift their middle-digit to The People’s Car and line up at the Toyota dealer (or even the Chevy dealer, if the price is reasonable).

    On the subject of Prii: are there TRD pieces available for the “regular” 4-door HB? I’d be interested just to see the effect of mounting wheels which will aid all-around handling of a Prius, on its mpgs. (I’ve had my doors blown off by a Prius once whilst I was set at a solid 80mph, so I know they can likely hit a buck-ten.)

  • avatar
    George B

    1) Volkswagen will pay huge fines.
    2) The marketing value of “Clean Diesel” is gone.
    3) More engineering resources with be applied to achieving certification of new not yet sold TDI cars than retrofitting old cars.
    4) Most TDI owners in the non-CARB states will choose not to “upgrade” the emission control systems of their cars. If OBDII says “good”, the CEL isn’t on, and the car runs well, why would they make it run worse?

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