We have a special edition of Motoring Monday to round up the latest news surrounding the Volkswagen TDI scandal known as dieselgate. I hate that term, but it’s what it is.
Since our last update the list of vehicles involved has widened, fixes are starting to come in for some cars, and they’re handing out cash to owners to keep them happy until theirs gets fixed.
We’ll get started with the biggest news, which is that an additional 10,000 vehicles from Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi with the 3.0 liter V6 TDI engine have been added to the list by the EPA and CARB for having alleged smog control defeat devices.
Sad but true, owners of all Audi vehicles with the 3.0 V6 turbo-diesel from 2013 to present, Porsche Cayenne 2014 and up, as well as the Volkswagen Tuareg from 2009 to present now face the same non-compliance debacle as owners of the four-cylinder cars have since September.
In notices issued by the EPA and CARB on November 2nd, it is alleged that these vehicles have an alternate software mode which allows the vehicle to emit some nine times more Nitrogen Oxide or NOx when it isn’t being dyno tested.
The EPA says that exactly one second after the computer detects the emissions test to be complete, it switches to what they refer to as a “normal mode” that has emissions levels that don’t comply. It’s a situation very similar to that which the four-cylinder models have been black marked for.
Volkswagen AG has issued a stop sale order for all affected models both for new and certified used vehicles. The affected vehicles shown on your screen are a wider listing than what the EPA and CARB has specified in their notice of non-compliance, but given they are all running the same equipment they are all affected.
The websites of all three brands say they are diligently working on a fix for the 3.0 liter V6 models and aren’t offering much more information at this time other than to reaffirm the vehicles are perfectly safe to drive.
As far as a fix goes for North American 2.0 liter TDI car from both Volkswagen and Audi goes, nothing has yet been announced. But in Europe, Volkswagen has proposed a fix for their EA189 models that has raised some eyebrows.
The fix for some Volkswagen TDI equipped cars in Germany which have suffered from the same allegations is a combination of a new software patch and and a piece of hardware that seems a bit dubious if not laughable.
Specifically for 1.6 liter engines, a plastic tube called an “Flow Transformer” will be added to the air intake box just ahead of the mass-airflow sensor. The seemingly benign piece of plastic is said to stabilize the airflow and therefore provide more precise air metering.
Volkswagen claims the fix will not affect fuel economy for owners in Germany and assures the government it will help make the cars meet emissions standards. Best of all it’s cheap and easy to install.
Well, if it turns out the fix for this has been the equivalent to the “Tornado” we’ve been able to get from JC Whitney all along, this only make this story even all that much more nuts. But, I doubt it’s really gonna be that easy for us here in North America.
And to that, we don’t have a fix yet. The latest rumors are that we will be hearing something just after the first of the year as to what our proposed fixes are. Until then, Volkswagen and Audi have been handing out cash to their angry owners in the meantime.
With $1000 in hand, Volkswagen and Audi hope to keep their 2.0 liter customers from going completely bonkers while they wait for their cars to be fixed. The “Goodwill Package” from both brands includes a $500 gift card to be used for anything and a $500 dealer cash card.
The latter can be used at your parts and service department for things like that 60,000 mile service of which it will only take a bite out of. You can also presumably use the card toward the purchase of another vehicle.
Customers can go to either the Volkswagen or Audi websites to get more information on the Goodwill Package and how to apply. Owners of 3.0-liter V6 models aren’t yet included in the program but I bet they will be at some point.
So this brings us to what’s next. What about 2016 Volkswagen TDI models? When will they be available?
Those are all good questions. When this scandal first broke, Volkswagen said this matter shouldn’t affect 2016 models even though they voluntarily put a stop sale on them. But since then, the term TDI has quite literally disappeared from all three of their brand’s websites.
If you search VW, Porsche or Audi models there are no TDI’s for 2016 even listed. They don’t exist. And when you take into account Volkswagen withdrew their applications for compliance with the EPA for these vehicles, it doesn’t bode well for their return anytime soon.
In fact, if you look at their statements and actions since this began, it’s clear that their long term shift is going toward electrification. Volkswagen already said as much last month, saying it would accelerate hybrid and electric car development.
At the LA Auto Show, their highlight concept car was a high-performance plug-in hybrid. Audi too played their hand at the LA Auto Show saying that by 2025, some 25% of all sales would be electric powered vehicles.
Sounds like they had a wake up call to me. Now I am not an advocate for an all electric future, in fact I have long been a fan of these diesel cars. But it’s clear that Volkswagen has burned their hand at the stove and plans to start cooking up something different going forward.