You may have heard recently that things are going bad for Volkswagen. That’s a little bit of an understatement. In the last few weeks, Volkswagen has gone from a world leader in diesel vehicles to facing fines and lawsuits in the tens of billions of dollars. That’s a lot of Golfs. Volkswagen is one of, if not THE world’s largest auto maker. They will weather this storm and emerge as a continuing leader in auto sales. And in my personal opinion, Volkswagen getting forced to abandon diesel is the best possible scenario for the auto makers.
The Golf is a great little car. The Sportwagen is a fantastic entry for those of us whos still swear by the station wagon (which is in every way superior to the SUV). Volkswagen doesn’t really make a bad car. In this modern era, every major auto maker offers a hybrid option for their vehicle, with many promising a future of fully electric vehicles. Volkswagen offers hybrid options, but has been slow to adopt.
Part of the reason Volkswagen’s recent troubles with diesel engines was so severe is that where other automakers had abandoned the diesel engine, Volkswagen kept on putting more effort and marketing into labeling the engine as a legitimate, eco-conscious alternative to gas. It was supposed to be superior to the gasoline engine; an engine above the traditional ICE but below a hybrid. The problem was that once it became clear that Volkswagen was cheating, the engine was seen for what it really is, a more expensive, more polluting option. Diesel, as far as North America goes, is dead.
And that’s fantastic.
As I mentioned earlier, Volkswagen’s cars are not bad. Even the diesels in question are sporty little vehicles with good reliability and performance. The issues is that they are terrible for the environment. 20 years ago, that argument might not have mattered much, but in this day and age cars are sold on that metric alone (looking at you Prius). Volkswagen is not allowed to sell their current or upcoming model year diesel vehicles in North America. The future for them doesn’t look bright either. So in order to meet fleet emission requirements, Volkswagen will have to come up with a new way to lower emissions. If there’s any company I want to see this effort come from, it’s Volkswagen. Volkswagen essentially invented the hot hatch with the Golf. Now that they can no longer rest on their laurels with diesel, how incredible would it be to see a fully electric, 500km range Golf? All Golf kart jokes aside, a hot hatch with instant torque would be one of the most fun vehicles to drive. ever.
Hopefully, Volkswagen can ride this out long enough to start producing some crazy alternatives to diesel. The recently unveiled Porsche Mission E concept has the range of Tesla with the looks of a Porsche. In other words, the thing is perfect. This shows that folks over at VAG are thinking of the future and realize it’s electric. If the same strategies that got that car designed can be brought to the Golf lineup, then Volkswagen will be in a very, very good place.
So long diesel, you won’t be missed. Volkswagen, it’s now on you to adapt to what the market has been doing for years. Make it better, make it cheaper, and bounce back from this with some awesome new vehicles.
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