VW 2.0L TDI Customer Goodwill

VW TDI Goodwill Package

VW TDI Goodwill Package

Recently we received VW’s TDI Customer Goodwill package in the mail.

-$500 Visa card

-$500 VW dealership card

-Roadside assistance for three years

To activate the cards the registered owner must take the package to a Volkswagen dealership, with proof of ownership, driver’s license, and the car. After the vehicle’s odometer is recorded and eligibility confirmed, the goodwill package is activated. Our loyalty cards are good through December 2016.

Because I perform the routine maintenance on our Jetta Sportwagen TDI, the $500 dealer monies will be used to purchase oil and filters, or maybe a set of tires. We will definitely spend it on wear items we can use beyond 2016.

Based on a few reports and commentaries I’ve read, some of the VW faithful are very angry about this diesel debacle. My wife and I are not pleased, but we’re also not worked-up about the situation. Resale value may have fallen—likely this will be temporary—but our car is the same, runs well and fits our needs, we still enjoy owning it, and have no plans for a replacement. Granted this is a long-range view, and if we were planning to sell or upgrade soon we’d be upset. Some think the $1,000 is far too little and should be thousands. Instead of three years of roadside assistance I’d rather have extra years of bumper-to-bumper warranty, which would cost Volkswagen more.

Is there a better, manual transmission economy car available in the USA that’s so fun to drive? Nope. A contrary view is that our car has become more valuable, and is essentially irreplaceable because these little diesel cars have not been sold for several months, and it will likely be many more before (if?) they are sold again. Barring any major reliability failures, we look forward to the next 10 years and 150,000 miles.

© 2016 J. Langan/RoadTraveler/PhotoWrite

Bosch Warned VW To Not Use Software

Maybe it’s in our nature, or possibly our cultures, to survive by winning at all cost, including cheating? Though most learn that dishonesty is not the way, in theory if not in practice.

As my friend Mike commented, the ethics of the VW emissions cheating situation aside, didn’t the perpetrators think they would  get caught someday? They should have…

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2015/09/27/reports-volkswagen-emmissions/72923064/

This USA Today article indicates that the Bosch Corporation—you know, the important fuel-injection guys—warned VW not to use certain software during normal operation, in 2007. Then in 2011, a Volkswagen technician reportedly raised concerns about illegal practices and emissions levels.

Seems there was some (diesel) smoke early on, a warning about a smoldering fire.

©2015 James Langan/PhotoWrite/RoadTraveler

Are Diesel Cars Doomed In The USA?

Doomed in the USA?

Doomed in the USA?

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe VW’s despicable deceit will hurt the future market for diesel cars in the USA, like GM’s pathetic first attempt to make light-duty automotive diesels decades ago? The action was very different, but could a generally negative public perception of diesel power return? This article argues yes. http://autoweek.com/article/car-news/why-volkswagens-diesel-betrayal-different

The author makes valid points about alternative technologies getting better, heck, even gasoline-powered cars  have become extremely efficient and economical (if we buy those models). My guess is that VW’s 2.0L TDI engines could have met the standards, still drive well, while obtaining slightly fewer miles-per-gallon. How much less is the question. Maybe two–three mpg on the highway? If that’s the number was it worth the trouble VW? Would people have avoided purchasing TDI cars because the EPA rating was lower and/or the cars obtained slightly less mpg?

Maybe we will find out if there is an ECM update recall that corrects the programming, making the cars meet standards. If so I’ll likely do a back-to-back freeway fuel-economy test to document the change. When the 2.0L TDI engines conform there might be consequences, like the particulate trap might fill sooner, and the car may not meet emissions system warranty standards set by the EPA.

As a former owner of the 1.9L TDI with its relatively modest 90 horsepower and 155 lb-ft of torque (2000 specs), and a current owner of a 2013, no-DEF injection, 2.0L TDI Jetta Sportwagen that makes an impressive 140 horsepower and 236 lb-ft, the slight reduction in real-world fuel economy from the newer car remains impressive. Both were equipped with manual transmissions, which helps economy, performance, and driving pleasure. The ’13 2.0L has a 6-speed tranny with an extra cog on top, and the taller final-drive ratio lets the engine turn fewer rpm, which surely helps.

If diesel car sales are severely and permanently damaged in the USA  because of VW’s actions it will be unfortunate for enthusiasts, the engine design and technology has so much to offer, still. However, even if this does happen I’m confident it will not hurt the diesel truck market. The buyers are generally not the same folks, as the green diesel car market and the impressively powerful (and efficient) full-size light-truck diesels target different customers. Diesel-powered trucks and commercial equipment are going to continue doing work and moving freight for the foreseeable future. Decades.

©2015 James Langan/PhotoWrite/RoadTraveler

VW’s “Clean Diesel” Scam

Prelude

As a longtime diesel aficionado, I have some thoughts about the recent revelation regarding Volkswagen’s intentional cheating on emissions tests, allowing vehicles to apparently meet standards when they actually did not while traveling on public roads.

2000 VW Golf TDI

2000 VW Golf TDI

Looking Back Before Looking Forward

We have already passed the crossroads for light-duty diesel acceptance in the USA. The overly belabored weaknesses of 1970s and 1980s G.M. diesel designs have finally faded in the press (which occurred long ago in the minds of most consumers).

Installing the naturally-aspirated International 6.9L V8 in 1983 Ford F-series pickups was a good, modest start. A positive diesel future was sealed when Chrysler and heavy-duty engine manufacturer Cummins installed the venerable 5.9L ISB turbodiesel in a mature Dodge pickup body. Light-duty diesel emission requirements were limited in those days, but have been updated several times since, becoming much more stringent. Yet manufacturers have developed technologies to meet the standards while simultaneously and dramatically improving performance. The massive toque and horsepower offered in newer diesel pickups from Ford, GM, and Ram were reserved for medium-duty and larger commercial trucks just a few years ago. Sometimes manufacturers even met future emissions requirements early, as Cummins did at one point with their 6.7L ISB.

More Diesel Cars Please

Smaller automotive diesel options (cars) have been few, with VW and Mercedes being the main players in the U.S. for decades, and BMW joining the fray more recently. VW has been the volume seller of diesel automobiles, which has much to do with the lower price of their vehicles and the miles-per-gallon they have been able to squeeze from a gallon of fuel.

1.9L VW TDI engine. Not the part of the current controversy.

1.9L VW TDI engine. Not the part of the current controversy.

The unfolding scandal interests me not only because of my enthusiasm for turbodiesel cars and light-trucks, but I also have a long standing connection to the VW brand. In my youth, my first two vehicles were 60s vintage VW Beetles. Before that, I literally learned to drive a manual transmission in my Papa’s 1978 VW Rabbit diesel 4-speed. Two decades later my wife and I owned a 2000 Golf TDI, putting 166,000 miles on the odometer before taking advantage of the excellent diesel resale value, and buying a new, 2013 Jetta Sportwagen “clean diesel”. Siblings and parents own VWs, and with my encouragement two cousins purchased late model VW TDIs.

Is this ridiculousness by VW going to hurt diesel sales from other manufacturers in the long run? I don’t think so. The emissions are extremely low (when  met) and the economy and performance advantages many.

© 2015 James Langan/PhotoWrite

Real Road Trip TDI MPG

My recent post about attaining 56 MPG in our little VW TDI was a rare achievement, our normal fuel economy is less, but still quite good. A recent road trip to Oregon is more representative of our typical highway fuel economy. The trip consisted of a couple hundred miles of slower, two-lane highways through the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges, then a couple hundred more on the faster I5 freeway. There were few ‘other’ miles mixed in, about thirty. All on one tank of fuel, as traveling 500-600 highway miles on a tank is no challenge for the little 1.9L TDI.

Over 500.3 miles we used 10.5 gallons of diesel, for 47.64 MPG. The pump clicked off a hair under 10.2 gallons, 49 MPG, too high, having made the same trip a few times. We’ll take 47.

We traveled mostly 65-75 mph, with lots of cruise control use.

47.64 MPG

TDI Mileage Test

In the broad sense of the expression I’m a car guy. Though it’s much more accurate to say I’m a truck guy, or a motorcycle guy, as these machines have been the focus of my enthusiasm since my youth. But cars have their place, particularly when it comes to running errands, driving on-pavement, and hauling only people or small parcels. We have a car for these tasks, my wife’s 2000 Golf TDI.

The 1.9L TDI sips so few liters of diesel that I usually don’t drive it with a focus on fuel economy. This contrasts with how I typically drive my 4WDs, trying to squeeze all I can out of each gallon of fuel. The daily driving commuter fuel economy from the TDI is very close to 40 MPG. Sometimes a bit less, sometimes more, depending on the driving mix. Most car highway trips you will find us driving the TDI, and the fuel economy while driving 75+/– is usually around 45 MPG, depending on how many in-town miles we traveled and how hard I flog the little oil-burner.

This past weekend we took a short drive to enjoy a favorite restaurant in a nearby city. I decided we would also do a “mileage test”, the term is part of my vernacular. The trip included several miles of 65 MPH freeway, but most of the 78.4 miles were on rural highways with only a few stoplights and a 55 MPH speed limit. I accelerated moderately, drove the speed limit, and paid attention to the task at hand, driving, but there was no hypermiling silliness. We drove very few in-town miles. We returned to the same fuel pump, set it to the same setting, no topping off, etc. Our consumption was 1.392 gallons.

Copyright © 2012 James Langan