Volkswagen, of All Companies, Calls for an End to Diesel Subsidies

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Despite Volkswagen being the premiere brand for “clean diesel” technology just a few short years ago, it’s now pressing aggressively into electrification. In fact, the company that admitted to widespread cheating on emissions tests following its pricey 2015 scandal is currently trying to convince the world to ditch diesel subsidies. Go green like us, the company wants everyone to hear.

Matthias Müller, CEO of Volkswagen Group, stated in a recent interview that the German government should stop subsidizing diesel entirely.

While a perspicacious position on the part of VW, it also serves as a reminder that German automakers benefited heavily from Europe’s once-popular diesel tax programs. However, with most of the world souring on the fuel, the automaker sees an opportunity to hurt its competition and help itself as it hurries to bring EVs to market.

“We should question the logic and purpose of diesel subsidies,” Müller expressed to German newspaper Handelsblatt. “The money can be invested more sensibly to promote more environmentally friendly technologies.”

His proposal makes sense. Volkswagen has a lot to gain if it can promote the electrification of Europe, especially since it’s on the brink of abandoning diesel technology altogether. However, Europe isn’t too keen on the fuel right now, either. Several nations have proposed internal combustion bans over the next few decades, while numerous large cities want to outlaw older diesel-burning vehicles from entering city centers within a few years (something Müller also claims to be in favor of).

However, as popular as Müller’s words are likely to be with some environmentalist groups, The New York Time s reported that others were less enthused about their source. “The government is being urged to phase out diesel subsidies by none other than the biggest diesel fraudster,” Tobias Austrup, a transportation expert for Greenpeace, said in a statement.

Ironically, axing subsidies now would only help the post-diesel Volkswagen. Neither BMW or Daimler are quite as ready to bet the farm on electrification. Meanwhile, VW has put nearly everything it has behind the technology after being caught cheating on diesel emissions tests. It has poured court-mandated funds into enhancing the United States’ charging network, invested heavily into the European grid, and developed its own MEB platform for use on various electric models expected within a few years.

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Brandloyalty Brandloyalty on Dec 12, 2017

    The comments to this article contain a vast amount of misinformation. Yet it takes very little effort to research the topic instead of just spouting one's notions. This is the best article I found about the story behind diesel engines in Europe: For example, why Europe switched fron gas to diesel engines to begin with. That diesels were encouraged by more than cheaper fuel: there were lower sales taxes on purchases of diesel cars. So diesels were subsidized. Why European car makers chose to go down the diesel road. Etc. The happy fact for sooty brains is that it can be blamed on the ecotards.

  • TomLU86 TomLU86 on Dec 12, 2017

    Thank you Stingray for your excellent, brief, explanation on unintended consequences. There are not free lunches. You want more mobility, more connectivity, more room for your stuff at home and in your vehicle, you're gonna generate more waste.

    • See 2 previous
    • Stingray65 Stingray65 on Dec 13, 2017

      @brandloyalty So who should decide how much stuff I need to be happy? You, Obama, Sanders, Trump, Kim Jong Un? Of course if history is any guide, these "smart" people mandating the happiness to stuff equation for society will almost certainly decide that they need substantially more stuff than the rest of us to make them happy - after all it is a big job with a lot of stress that only several big castles, yachts, and private jets will help alleviate their burden.

  • Akear Toyota wins once again, while GM has egg on its face.
  • Slavuta Why America needs school buses altogether? When I was in school, I rode on a regular city bus
  • Jeff Buy whatever works for you if you own an EV and are happy with it good, if you buy a hybrid or plug in hybrid and it works for you good, if neither and you like your ICE the way it is that is also good. I believe over time EVs will get better and have a larger segment of the market.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Is New Jersey better than Old Jersey?
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