By on July 20, 2016

TDI Clean Diesel

It won’t come as a surprise that Volkswagen’s U.S. arm is eager to put all that happy-go-lucky “clean diesel” stuff behind it.

Once the diesel emissions scandal sinks from the headlines like the Deepwater Horizon, the automaker plans to head in a different direction stateside, Automotive News reports, and oil burners won’t be a big part of it.

Volkswagen of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken told the publication that the Volkswagen landscape will soon look far different, and the brand’s huge diesel push is, for all intents and purposes, stone cold dead.

“We are not stopping diesel,” Woebcken said. “Wherever diesel makes sense as a package to the car, we’ll continue. But in reality, we have to accept that the high percentage of diesels that we had before will not come back again.”

Volkswagen’s TDI models rode a wave of publicity and good press due to their power, exceptional mileage and supposed green virtues. That reputation now lies in pieces, just like the 2.0-liter TDI models will be once Volkswagen buys them back.

If the automaker gets federal approval to sell them, TDI models will continue in the lineup from 2017 to 2019, Woebcken said, adding that he expects tighter regulations after that date. With the lead-up to the diesel buyback underway, the company hasn’t sought regulatory permission to restart sales. Then-new 2015 models were sidelined by the scandal, and Volkswagen never received the go-ahead for its 2016 TDI vehicles.

Volkswagen’s American future lies in crossovers and all-wheel drive, the CEO claims, and that’s where the company’s focus will be. The start of the potentially lucrative (it hopes) utility push begins with the 2017 Golf Alltrack wagon this fall, and continues with the introduction of a new midsize crossover next spring, as well as a new, longer Tiguan next summer.

Both crossovers will be priced competitively, Woebcken said.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

39 Comments on “Volkswagen To Go From ‘Clean Diesel’ Pusher to ‘Barely Any Diesel’ Brand: CEO...”


  • avatar
    kit4

    That’s if they make it to 2019.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I am sure VW will be around Germany will not let them fail, and I doubt they will pull out of the US as they have Audi and Porsche here as well, If TDI’s are a smaller footprint , they better bring over some high MPG cars or they will be in Cafe Hell with the Gov’t in a few years and I think they would want to avoid that.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      The assumption here is that the German government has unlimited money to throw at a failing business whose criminality has caught up with it; and which has heavy liability – in fines and government-ordered buybacks – in ANOTHER nation.

      That assumption is about to be put to the test. Sovereign debt is reaching a critical point in many western nations – and unlike the United States, Germany cannot just recklessly print up more money.

      I would say there’s a 50/50 chance Volkswagenwerk will not be with us much longer.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I think the current plan is fine. The volume 1.8T and the new 1.4T (which has recently made an appearance outside the Jetta Hybrid) are quite efficient. More hybrid and electric technology on the Audi and Porsche sides, along with a noticeable loss in V8 engines on many products (Q7, A6, Touareg, etc…) should have VW sitting pretty, even without the diesels. Even Bentley now offers a V8 on the Continental GT and Flying Spur; previously those cars were only available with the W12. A V8 will probably also be available in the Bentayga.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        Yeah, vw currently has quite the lead when it comes to engine line modernization. 1.4, 1.8, 2.0 and that’s it, the only legacy engine is the vr6 and that’s in basically no cars. I actually prefer all of those engines to the tdi’s, and have since long before the scandal. I’m not throwing shade on past tdi buyers, against the 2.5 and competitor’s na 4 cylinders it made quite a bit of sense. So, ironically, the tdi scandal came exactly when vw itself made then redundant. I bet if the scandal hasn’t happened we’d all be talking about their gas engines constantly, they represent our first look at a fully modern gas lineup in this market. Ford and gm are right there as well, albeit with an understandably large collection of legacy na engines in the mix.

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    Inevitable, really.

    I know the realities in other markets are different, but I wonder what change (if any) this will have to Diesel’s long-term viability as a passenger car fuel?

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      probably kill it. It’s not like anyone else besides VW had any success selling them; GM did the diesel Cruze and nobody bought it. Of course GM’s marketing department couldn’t sell water in the desert.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        The Cruze Diesel’s case wasn’t helped by autojournos’ “hurr-durr, stupid GM, TDI for the win bro!” nincompoopery…exhibited by, most egregiously, the previous editor of this blog. I’d like to think he feels appropriately foolish now, with the TDI revelations coming to light, but I doubt it.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      Like so much else, it will depend on politics.

      Radical environmentalism is a luxury that poor nations cannot afford. And the debt run up by European nations and America are probably going to bring their fiscal structures down.

      Developing, or devastated, nations find a way to tolerate smoking trucks and even cars – to the extent that private cars are in use.

      So it depends on whether the regulatory structure crumbles to where engineering standards, rather than regulatory diktats, are what drive manufacture of vehicles and their fuel.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “Developing, or devastated, nations find a way to tolerate smoking trucks and even cars ”

        yes, by not giving a s**t about their people.

        • 0 avatar
          JustPassinThru

          I’m talking REALITY here, not what I wish or what you want.

          The REALITY is, a nation like Mexico or Zimbabwe or Trashkanistan cannot ban smoking buses, or cars and motorcycles with inexpensive two-stroke engines, or steam locomotives sending out plumes of coal smoke, or people heating their hovels with chopped-up tires.

          They CANNOT. They don’t have the manpower and the people have no other way. Subsistence nations are like that.

          You may well find that out, once all this government debt forces a reckoning.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Wherever diesel makes sense as a package to the car, we’ll continue.”

    My crystal ball tells me that diesel will never make sense again.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      the problem is two-fold.

      1) even with the superior fuel economy, the green types are going to avoid diesels like they’re a garbage fire, now that the whole “Clean Diesel” campaign has been shown to be fraudulent

      2) the average car buyer wasn’t really interested in diesel in the first place, and they sure won’t be now. If they’ve noticed the emissions scandal news, VW has just reinforced in their minds that “diesel=black stinky clouds.”

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        Yes, I agree that tdi’s have a dubious at best future in small cars stateside. On the other hand, with gasoline engines about to incorporate particulate filters, varable vane turbos and dual injection the rational math will change. When gas cars employ exactly the same costly emissions equipment as diesels then, based on your average drove cycle, the diesels could well make economic sense for many people. Not that it will matter given the recent press.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I like how he says that SUVs and AWD vehicles are going to be their new “thing” (haha!).

    Subaru has pretty much established themselves as the go-to brand for people that think they need AWD. Crossovers and regular SUVs are a dime-a-dozen from every other brand, even Mitsubishi.

    TDI differentiated VW, especially after unleashing the decontented Jetta and Passat. I can’t see their sales increasing all that much in the U.S. without a diesel option and a lack of TDIs in Canada would be a bad thing long-term for them and the dealers.

    Hopefully the hybrid cars they’re promising can match the economy and torque of the TDI and be affordable, which the Jetta hybrid was not.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I was never convinced of the business case for diesels in passenger cars, especially small ones like the Golf and Jetta. Small displacement turbocharged engines are giving drivers the same kind of fat torque curve that diesels produce; and in the kind of stop and go driving that most drivers encounter, a hybrid will give better fuel economy. Only on long, highway trips is a diesel superior in fuel economy.

    While the exhaust may have been cleaned up (at least as far as odor and visible smoke is concerned), diesel fuel itself is smelly and hard to clean off if it gets on you or your clothing. Admittedly, automotive diesels have come a long way since my 1980 Audi 5000 diesel which emitted clouds of blue smoke on cold start up when temperatures were below freezing. But so have gasoline engines.

    Then there’s the question of longevity and repair an maintenance costs of a diesel vs. a gasoline engine.

    There’s still some use for diesels in heavier vehicles like the larger SUVs and crossovers. Heavily boosted small engines don’t seem to do well in them either in terms of driveability or real-world fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      And, the payback on the ‘diesel premium’ is nonexistent during those times when diesel fuel costs 10-30% more than regular gas. As you say, a hybrid can match the diesel’s fuel economy.

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        Diesel has been on-par or cheaper lately where I am. Paid $2.15 the other night while gas was $2.25. Diesel is the cheapest now than it’s been in the approximately 4 years since I bought my TDI.

        Of course any of the emissions components failing out of warranty quickly negate any fuel savings with the TDI.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Diesel’s main advantage over gas, is that the engines make peak power closer to where they are max efficient, hence where they are geared to spend much of their time. In Europe, where engines are smaller enough so that peak power has application beyond bragging rights, this make diesels a good deal. In America, where everyone insists on driving around with plenty of efficiency robbing “reserve power”, Diesels only really make sense in vehicles that spend a lot of their time towing a fair amount of weight, so that the trailer is absorbing the reserve power. Bringing everything back into a diesel friendly equilibrium again.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        it’s more than that, it’s that diesels are more thermodynamically efficient in the first place. but the big one is that they don’t rely on a throttle plate to control engine speed, so they’re not suffering the huge pumping losses of puttering around with the throttle barely cracked open.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      Yes, but as I commented immediately above, that’s all about to change. Slap a dpf on a di turbo gas car and the ownership cost needs to be reevaluated. The tdi’s were a relatively premium alternative to hybrids in terms of driving experience. Basically, mileage for people who like nice things and are willing to pay for them. They never made sense as a purely miserly purchase. Now, with gas engines aquiring nearly identical complexity… remember that until very very recently the only turbo di engines were expensive sporty trim levels and diesels, that’s where a lot of the cost is coming from.

      I’m not rooting for small diesels personally,I’m just enjoying the irony of this very weird situation. A gas engine with a turbo is better to drive than a turbo diesel, and has close enough mileage to get my nod. A turbo diesel vs a weak na motor, well, the diesel makes sense for people willing to spend on torque.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        there’s a lot more to the cost hit of diesel than the particulate trap. adding a particulate filter to a GDI car will of course add cost, but that still isn’t going to close the gap when diesels also need the NOx catalyst, DEF tank and hardware, a fuel system running at an order of magnitude more pressure, etc…

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          Not on the maintenance side. The dpf is the big one you hit right around the timing belt interval. I’m a lot less worried about the cost on the purchase side since the manufacturers can scale out of those costs or find somewhere else to pull from. Again, I’d rather have a gas turbo motor than a diesel one, but I think that the higher maintenance on the diesels were more caused by the dpf and the di+turbo than anything else (dsg contributed too in vw’s case, but that’s a totally separate issue).

          My point is less to cheerlead for diesels than it is to worry about future running costs on gas engines.

    • 0 avatar
      M1EK

      “Only on long, highway trips is a diesel superior in fuel economy.”

      Anybody know what CR found for the highway mileage of a Prius versus a TDI? Anyone?

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Diesel passenger cars are going to fade away fast in the developed world. The cost and complexity of emissions treatment (when actually done correctly) swamps any technical advantages. Meanwhile, hybrid technology is getting cheaper.

    Another huge scandal sitting in plain site is the common European practice of shutting down diesel emissions control systems to “protect the engine” at low temperatures and or high speeds. Opel, for example, is struggling to explain why it is legal to shut down the exhaust treatment system during autobahn runs in Germany http://europe.autonews.com/article/20160518/ANE/160519860/opel-admits-using-shut-off-device-german-minister-says .

    It is starting to look like pretty much everyone is cheating the intention of the emissions regulations for passenger car diesels.

    “No diesel car has been able to get under the legal emissions limit in real-world driving, according to a German government investigation.”

    http://www.autoblog.com/2016/04/22/german-carmakers-diesel-recall-europe/

  • avatar
    Jacob

    I can’t stop gloating about this. VW diesel buyers used to be some of the biggest diesel advocates, claiming that the torque and the fuel economy will make it worth it to buy into a brand with Audi/VW reliability, even when their engines spew nasty particles and cost more, and when the diesel fuel often costs more than petrol and when turbo petrol engines also give you plenty of torque.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      Again, not a diesel owner or fan (only vs hybrids) necessarily but they weren’t all wrong. The diesels had at least industry average reliability, they were right about the torque, and the gas engines are the particulate problem while the diesels were nox hogs.

      To top it off, a huge part of the ownership cost difference was the turbo at any trim level and the dpf, both of which are likely to be found on future gas engines you own. I’m not sad to see them go, but it’s in our best interest to be accurate about where that extra cost came from so as to better identify it in the future. Our love of torque and fuel economy is bringing the party to your garage whether you own a diesel or not.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        A “dpf” is just a big catalytic converter. Gas DI engines won’t need anything like the fairly elaborated “urea” injection/tank/etc setups, necessary for clean emissions diesels.

        The days of diesels being the value/cheapskate option are long gone, sorry to say.

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          Denvermike

          I don’t think they’ve been a legitimate choice as a miser’s car since 09. At that point gas engine small cars with no turbo were the only rational move. All they were was a way to get the torque other fuel efficient (not the same as inexpensive) options didn’t offer. Ev’s are the only way to do that now, and only only only because of massive subsidies.

          The dpf is a common service point in a way that a sorted and well designed def system needn’t necessarily be (those issues they’ve had are teething issues imo).

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “they were right about the torque,”

        no they weren’t. every 2.0 GTDI engine on the market (except for VW’s own TSI) has a lot more torque than the 2.0 TDI.

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          Sort of but allow a counterpoint. Those examples were all performance trim, high octane, low mileage engines. Vw’s 1.8t is maybe the best counterpoint to the 2.0tdi (its really a 2.0 l block). 87 octane and 200lb/ft. If they went vvt on the turbo they’d be approaching tdi torque but no matter what the 1.8 will rev better and have more hp. More to the point, at the time of purchase for my fil (as an example 09 to 10) there was nothing in his wagon’s price point making anything like that torque with comparable mileage. That has changed since then with entry price di+turbo hitting the market and the scandal tunes likely outcome.

          I’m just trying to temper what I think are overly simplistic conclusions about the technologies in question. Remember that there are still whole, and growing, categories of passenger vehicles were the diesel option makes tons of sense. Id rather see a diesel in a luxury barge or large suv than a high revving gas engine. In that case the gas engine is operating waaaaay outside the tested emissions profile quite often. We shouldn’t forget that operating at a reduced level of emissions control is in no way a diesel specific situation.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “the dpf, both of which are likely to be found on future gas engines you own”

        I don’t know what gives you the idea that the particulate filter is such a huge part of the cost difference between gas and diesel. You’re ignoring the other differences such as the need for a separate NOx catalyst which needs its own sensors along with a DEF tank, DEF injector and associated plumbing. Or the fact that diesel fuel rail pressures can reach 30,000 psi while GDI rail pressures are around 1/10th of that.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    It’s sad. I hope that it comes back at least 2.0 form with a manual. yeah I know, everyone says they want that. However, the problem is for those that want/need really good fuel efficiency (say low to mid 30s in the city and over 40 on the highway) in a fun to drive platform (that includes a manual transmission) without being in a penalty box, our choices are possibly the Fiesta 1.0EB and that’s about it. The VW diesels were another good option. Unfortunately, as much as I would be ok with it, I don’t see a genuine sporty hybrid coming anytime soon, especially after the dismal failure of the CRZ.

  • avatar
    Jasper2

    VW will remain in North America but will never be the same during the next 10-15 years. After that, who knows.
    It has also indirectly ruined the AUDI image.
    SO now the top German brands are BMW and Mercedes.
    Mercedes if you want beauty and to show how prosperous you are (nothing wrong with that) and BMW if you are interested in style and dynamic performance vehicle.
    Thoughts anyone????

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • SoCalMikester: fifteen bucks will buy enough gummies id probably be better off home. might check the motorcycle show...
  • jack4x: No Build and Price up for 2022, I’d want that active before declaring something the right spec. As it...
  • toronado: All good stuff- for me its Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, early Chicago (the brassy era),and Al...
  • SCE to AUX: “U.S. officials have repeatedly emphasized that the private sector must step up and provide more...
  • SCE to AUX: Agreed on the overuse. Such a provision has its place, but not everything is a national emergency.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber