Volkswagen Ditches Diesel Technology in the United States

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
volkswagen ditches diesel technology in the united states

Volkswagen will no longer bring diesel-powered vehicles into the United States, ending speculation that the company may have simply placed the technology on hiatus while the emissions-cheating snafu remained fresh in American minds.

Initially reported by Handelsblatt and confirmed by Reuters via a VW spokesman, the announcement was made by Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess. “We currently anticipate that we will no longer offer new diesel vehicles in the United States,” Diess explained.

With diesels once making up a fourth of VW’s U.S. sales, it is unlikely the decision came easy. After being slapped with a $14.7 billion settlement resulting from the emissions-cheating scandal, this was likely the prudent move. However, there was plenty of forewarning leading up to the final decision.

At last week’s Los Angeles Auto Show, Volkswagen Group of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken told reporters he didn’t believe diesel would ever “come back in the same magnitude as we’ve seen it up to now.”

“Emissions standards in following years are getting tougher and tougher,” Woebcken said. “Why don’t you put the money and investments … to comply with these standards, why don’t you put the money on the spot where the future is?”

Volkswagen probably knows the limitations of diesel technology and emissions compliance better than anyone at this point. Although we’ll have to wait and see if it can predict the automotive future.

Europe, which doesn’t impose the same strict regulations on nitrogen oxide emissions as the United States does, will continue to see VW-produced diesels. Meanwhile, North America is expected to see an influx of Volkswagen SUVs and a hard push from the company to build electric vehicles — which is that “spot” Woebcken thinks the future may be.

That future includes nineteen sport utility vehicles by 2020 and one million EVs sold by 2025. Those goals are extremely ambitious, considering the company’s recent hardships and VW’s CEO, Matthias Müller, being so openly dubious of public reaction to EVs in Europe.

“There is no supply shortage, there is a demand shortage,” Müller said of electric cars. “On one hand, many Germans think and act green, but when it comes to electric mobility, they wrinkle their noses. I have a hard time understanding this phenomenon.”

It sounds as if the United States may have to do some of the heavy lifting to help Volkswagen accomplish its million-unit sales goal.

With VW pulling diesel motors out of North America entirely and Mercedes-Benz considering it, that leaves Chevrolet and Mazda as the primary torchbearers. Volkswagen said it was considering allowing Audi to continue on with diesel engines, but that it would limit production solely to the Q7.

In an ironic twist, the upcoming VW Atlas SUV, built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will offer a diesel variant solely for Russian customers.

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6 of 40 comments
  • Klossfam Klossfam on Nov 23, 2016

    Still waiting for the other shoe to drop on MB and BMW...also the FCA 3.0T VM Motori in the Jeep GC and my personal daily driver RAM 1500 EcoDiesel...I'd really be surprised based on some of the real world testing that defeat device or not, these non-VW diesels are putting out more NOX than specified. Nothing official to base that on (and personally the RAM EcoDiesel seems to run really clean) but I imagine that eventually, diesels in North America for 'non-commercial' use will get phased out...Just looks like the direction we are heading.

    • See 3 previous
    • Sarcheer Sarcheer on Nov 23, 2016

      @RobertRyan EPA isn't ignoring the particulates from DI engines at all. They actually addressed the problem in 2013/14 with the standards currently going into effect. "" ""

  • Chetter Chetter on Nov 23, 2016

    Diesel is a great equalizer when your typical German gasser equivalent requires over priced (at least here in NY) Premium fuel. A shame.

  • Cprescott Yawn.
  • 28-Cars-Later Wrangler people are crazy.
  • 28-Cars-Later "Transition" to layoffs, this guy is the Bob(s) from Office Space.
  • Vap65689119 As a release engineer I also worked in quality, if they are serious they should look at Toyotas business model which has their suppliers as genuine partners, thats how you get a quality product
  • Mike-NB2 I seem to have landed in an alternate universe. $12,000 for a Jeep that's going on a quarter-century old and with an automatic transmission? Wow.