AD #1705 – VW in Deep Trouble, Hybrid Sales Tank, Detroit 3 Pick-Up Share in California

September 21st, 2015 at 11:51am

Runtime: 7:39

- UAW Gets Good Deal with FCA
- Hybrid Sales Tank
- Detroit 3 Pick-Up Share in California
- Manufacturing Shift Looming?
- VW in Deep Trouble

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120 Comments to “AD #1705 – VW in Deep Trouble, Hybrid Sales Tank, Detroit 3 Pick-Up Share in California”

  1. G.A.Branigan Says:

    VW certainly got caught screwing the pooch,and it will be painful for the company,as well as the folks that bought the diesels.Shame on you VW.

  2. Kate McLeod Says:

    If Martin Winterkorn apologized then it had to be Martin Winterkorn who approved the deception. That’s my view of how Volkswagen felt it was perfectly within their code of honor to do such a terrible thing. This is appalling. Just one more step towards a world where we won’t need cars because there won’t be any world in which to drive.

  3. David Sprowl Says:

    hybrid sales tanking? I’m not shocked. I questioned the notion that the average driver drives 40 miles per day in city driving. Urban housing is climbing in price. Those that dwell in urban areas have done so with the thought of ditching at least one car and using other transportation instead. Those in outlying areas are using highways where hybrids are moot. When you factor in the cost of replacement batteries and trade in coupled with the lack of fuel savings on top of the additional purchase cost, hybrids are a foolish purchase. Fool me once.

  4. David Sprowl Says:


  5. Mike H Says:

    I think we can thank the Saudi’s flooding the market with cheap gas for the tanking of hybrid sales. Consumers seem to have a notoriously short memory when it comes to purchasing vehicles.
    We’ve seen this ebb and flow several times from 1974 to 1979 and then to the recent spikes in gas prices. The prices spike and suddenly everyone wants a diesel or a hybrid. When the prices tank there is a sudden interest in V8 engines. I’d like to think we weren’t so shallow but the evidence says otherwise.

  6. HtG Says:


  7. HtG Says:


    I give you “Schmidt Happens,” starring Oliver Schmidt appearing on AAH ep275 this winter…

  8. WineGeek Says:

    I think one of the major reasons that hybrids sales are falling is the lousy performance that the tiny engines provide. A somewhat more powerful gasoline engine would make these cars perform better. I believe that the engines could be turbo charged for much better acceleration when required without much of a gas mileage hit.

    We have a 2012 Prius plug-in that is a very nice vehicle, but it can’t get out of it’s own way while accelerating. On the highway it will go 75 or 80 and get 50+ MPG.

  9. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Hybrid sales are down because gas is cheaper(er), and because Prius, by far the best selling hybrid in the world, is at the end of its run with the current, gen 3.

    I predict that hybrid sales will be up next year. The new Prius will hit the market, and efficiency minded people who were considering VW TDI’s will buy hybrids instead.

  10. JDay Says:

    Wow. If it wasn’t on autoline I might not believe it was true. What I’m wondering now is how long VW thought they would get away with it. I’m also hoping that now that the cats out of the bag other auto makers don’t start getting called out too. There’s been a lot of bad press lately about some auto makers fudging the mpg ratings of there vehicles and I would say this is similar. Not the same but definitely similar. I also might add that this is the type of thing your going to see when emissions standards are sooooo tight and scheduled to get tighter every year forever, I mean we all know that we shouldn’t be smogging diesels anyways.

  11. WineGeek Says:

    The VW fiasco has to go up pretty high in the food chain there as the amount of effort and approvals required to make this happen had to be a LARGE hurdle to overcome and had to get top management stamp of approval.

  12. HtG Says:

    something I’m typing is begin rejected by the server

  13. HtG Says:

    OK, I give up trying to post. But if you watch Schmidt lying right at John and Gary, ask yourself why he was being forcibly recalled to Germany last winter. Could it be to get out of US jurisdiction?

  14. Roger T Says:

    Just the thing diesels didn’t need…
    25% is clearly an overreaction and it could be worse before it gets better – think mandatory buy back.

  15. HtG Says:

    Schmidt explained that US standards were farsighted and were expanding to China and Korea. You bet VW was doing this crap around the world.

  16. B W Ellis Says:

    Monday morning QB. Is this why Mazda has had so much trouble bringing their Diesel to the US, trying to emulate the V Dub with out the need for DEF? Seems to me the other automakers must know something was amiss, what with them needing DEF to pass the criteria but not VW? Hard to believe this went on for so long without someone blowing the whistle.

  17. HtG Says:

    Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, Schmidt

  18. Brett Says:

    Hybrid sales are tanking because hybrid buyers want CUVs, too, perhaps?

    Question: What does the revelations regarding VW do to the value of all of the 2.0 liter diesel vehicles already in the hands of owners?

  19. Buzzerd Says:

    Hybrid sales- I usually find the bigger the problem the more reasons there is for the problem, it’s rarely on thing.
    So here goes- Car sales are slow no matter what the type, crossovers are the hot commodity.
    Have we hit the saturation point? those that wanted one got one and don’t surveys show they tend to not want another?
    Gasoline is dirt cheap.
    Some things are just trendy, maybe hybrids are one of them and the trend is fading.
    That said we bought a car, Nissan Juke, fugly but kind of fun. Wanted to buy a GM product, like the dealer and salesman is a friend but the Trax was to boring and the Equinox to large.

  20. C-Tech Says:

    GM was hit with a 900 million dollar fine. Do I hear 1 billion for VW?

  21. Lisk Says:

    It will be curious to discover just how many additional models VW may have used this tactic. I wonder if it will creep into the gas fueled engines.

    In 1972, Pontiac got caught in a similar pickle. The 310hp SD-455 was due to come out in 1973 Firebirds and Grand Ams. It seem to get them to pass the NOx test, a timer was incorporated into the EGR system that allowed the system work long enough for it to pass the test, and then go into a less NOx friendly mode. The EPA caught this before any cars were built and the engines were revised and re-rated to 290hp. This delayed delivery by several months and limited the offering to only the Firebirds.

  22. Buzzerd Says:

    VW- further reminder of why we have governments and regulations cause left to themselves, large or small, there will always be companies that will trade $$$$ for anything else, just like people.

  23. Buzzerd Says:

    Question- will VW have to recall all those cars/engines and reprogram them and what effect will it have on the engine? More sluggish? Less fuel economy? I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be good otherwise why do it in the first place.

  24. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Will all small diesels now take a ‘hit’ because of vw’s wanton lying and cheating? Nah,I don’t think so.The oems that offer diesel options will continue to fix and repair complex dpf/def/egr systems that get a daily workout while staying legal and clean.

  25. C-Tech Says:

    If I owned a VW Diesel, I am not sure if I would take it in for the pcm programming update, if it is going to give me less performance.

  26. Wim van Acker Says:

    @13: I am not sure whether 25% is an over-reaction. To me it seems to lie (no pun intended) in the right order of magnitude for the following reasons.

    VW’s market capitalization decreased roughly from $ 92 billion to $ 71 billion. So $ 21 billion of shareholder value was wiped out. The fine alone could potentially amount to $ 18 billion.

    And a lot more damage is to be expected as a fall out from this in terms of negative impact on sales, short and mid term damage to the Volkswagen and Audi brand reputation, and there are probably many more potential negatives.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    14 If they are doing it in Europe, things will be REALLY bad, given that, the last I knew, a majority of their sales in Europe are diesels.

    The financial fallout will be huge, but what I’m curious about is how they run, and what mpg they get, while meeting emission regs.

  28. Jon M Says:

    Well, sounds like the lust to be No. 1 finally got the better of VW. There is some potential good news, however. If the good folks at the EPA follow the shining example of their colleagues over at the DOJ, who just after asserting that people not companies will be held accountable issued a paltry $900 million fine with 0 prosecutions to a company whose “faux pas” killed 124 people (give or take of course), then VW’s fraud should amount to something between laughable and de minimis. The bad news is the myriad of VW owners might not let them off so easy. VW shareholders put the company on notice too. Maybe if GM shareholders realized who was really paying the $900 million fine they too might protest such an eye-winking rebuke!

  29. HtG Says:

    Maybe vw also couldn’t get the emissions equipment to last long enough to meet the US regs. Isn’t it 8 years and 80k of service?

    Wait, vw parts failing? But Schmidt told John and Gary reliability issues were the fault of suppliers. Check the ‘Schmidt Happens’

  30. Mike Ma Says:

    VW’s diesel issues could be just the tip of the iceberg as the EPA needs to investigate whether other European auto companies that offer diesels have been doing the same thing as VW should be forced to buy back all diesel cars effected as this is fraud.

  31. HtG Says:

    26 Disagree. The Justice Dept. just said that it was changing its focus to prosecuting individuals over corporations.

    Stay in Germany, Schmidt

  32. RumNCoke Says:

    Well, I have no idea how anybody found out about this surreptitious code in the VW software but that’s pretty damn good investigating. You have to think that the green light for this kind of cheating was given by someone pretty high up the VW food chain. Maybe the market will punish them by going back to hybrids & plug ins instead of diesels.

  33. Bob Wilson Says:

    Addressing the reduction in hybrid sales, we track the last four months of efficient vehicle sales using data from Jeff Cobb’s (see link on my name.) There is no single answer.

    Low USA gasoline prices means folks can buy bigger, less efficient vehicles and still afford the gas. From over $3/gallon, it is reaching under $2/gallon in many areas.

    More options as CAFE makes new gas models ‘less bad’. Then there is the growth of plug-ins. Before 2012, Prius owners were making their own plug-ins hybrids. As for electric cars, again, people had to make their own but now a Leaf and other EVs can be bought in every state. So we’ve seen about a 10-15% defection of Prius owners to plug-ins and EVs.

    The biggest selling hybrid, the Prius is being ‘water torture’ released. This release has stretched out for over a year and won’t end until November/December. A new model suppresses sales for as long as it is known to be coming followed by a burst of buying . . . typically 3-4 months.

    “Whack a hybrid” legislation to go from gasoline tax to miles driven. This tax structure rewards the less efficient, higher consuming vehicles by over taxing the efficient ones. However, some of us have noticed ’3d party’ companies trying to ‘service’ the states and leach into this tax stream for private profit. ‘Speed cameras’ anyone?

    CARB changed their rules to ‘bootstrap’ fuel cell cars by eliminating and reducing hybrid incentives. Once upon a time, hybrids were the only alternative. Now CARB is trying to make a silk purse out of the hydrogen fool-cell cars.

    VW cheated the testing with the 2.0 L, TDI cars. Some of the TDI cars are very nice if you can live with the NOx sore throat and smoggers cough.

    Historically it was September 2013 when hybrid sales softened and that coincided with softening gasoline prices. But the other effects have also played a part.

    Bob Wilson

    ps. Ram pickup diesel sales have truly fallen off the cliff over the past four months.

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Some people at U. West Virginia were trying to find out how VW met the US emission regs for diesels, in preparation for stricter regs in Europe. What they discovered was, well, we now know.

  35. HtG Says:

    32 Kit, I’ve read the story another way. It was a German based advocacy group that noticed the discrepancy in emissions, but in Germany. This group then got together with the US uni and CARB. I think the story appeared either in Bloomberg or Automotive news. Either way, the discrepancy exists in Germany too. So it looks pretty bad for vw.

    One probably doesn’t want to walk too close to vw high rise offices.

  36. John McElroy Says:

    To all,

    We will have a lot more to say about Volkswagen on Autoline After Hours this coming Thursday. We have a lot more gory details to go through. And you can be sure that the recall in the US is just the tip of the iceberg.

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    7 Apparently turbos are not the way to go with hybrids, even if they want more power. A naturally aspirated Atkinson Cycle engine is what nearly everyone uses for hybrids. It is efficient, though weak at low rpm. The electric motor{s} make up for that at low speed. We’ll see how the next Prius performs, but I suspect it will be quicker than the current one, which is entirely adequate for normal driving.

    As far as the Prius “not being able to get out of its own way,” yeah, the Prius is on the slow end of vehicles now sold in the US, but there are others in the 10-11 second 0-60 range, including Fiesta, 4 cylinder Equinox/Terrain, and others.

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I don’t need another car, but if I see a nice, manual transmission Golf TDI for 10 cents on the dollar, I might be tempted.

  39. Jim Says:

    FCA newbies will see their ‘base pay’ increase by $25,000 over four years? WTF! That kind of money for installing a hood or vehicle seat. Assembly work is non skilled labor. Your ride could be put together by some 16 year old kid with a 8th grade education and they make that kind of scratch!? Insanity! No wonder new vehicles are so expensive these days.
    FCA will send all passenger car production down Mexico way? That’s the beginning of the end ….

  40. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ 31: I think that fca overprices their diesel offerings to the point where sales are going to slow way down.I also think GM will not have the success they want with the soon to be released diesel midsize twins.@ a $3700. premium? I just don’t see it.

    Pent up demand will fizzle out just like the ram 1500 diesel is,mainly because they are too damned expensive to buy and to maintain.The advantages of the diesels are being eaten up alive by mandatory epa regs,(which are needed),but the ensuing costs just don’t add up anymore.

  41. HtG Says:

    I read that vw has also stopped sales on used models.

    John, how about interviews with the engineers at Mazda and Honda who were too shit to figure out how to comply with US standards.

  42. Lex Says:

    Now Tesla has an opportunity in California to grab up all those customers how were thinking about buying a Audi or VW with diesel powertrain.

    Audi & VW must be doing a similar trick on European Regulators at the expense of the general publics health. This will once again put diesel engines and especially VW into the dark “dirty” side for most American consumers.

  43. HtG Says:

    “What Would Jason Vines Do?”

    -by J. Vines

  44. Bradley Says:

    Did the Chicken Tax keep SUV/Truck production in the United States?

    It sounds like that may have had a heavy influence on FCAs decision to move car production to Mexico.

  45. HtG Says:

    CARB should make itself useful and start testing all cars on the open road. Standards are so tough, and DC so drowning in special interest money(don’t look at me), that maybe only Cali can straighten this crap out. Unless of course some enterprising engineers want to hook up the GPS to the car’s emissions so it can always be clean in Cali, but nowhere else.

  46. Bradley Says:


    I most likely own one of these suspect cars, 2013 Jetta Sportswagen TDI.

    I hope after they recall it, it still has the sporty feel that I like.

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yep, if you do a reality check, these light duty diesels just don’t make sense. They cost thousands of dollars more, and with the usual price premium for diesel fuel in the US, you barely save on fuel cost. Then, there is this “big torque” we hear so much about, which is mostly masked with the mandatory automatic transmission.

  48. Albemarle Says:

    I predict the following:

    Step 1) Upper VW management must say they are shocked and appalled. They accept corporate responsibility while maintaining this is not the way VW treats its customers or the regulations.

    Step 2) VW starts an EXTERNAL investigation immediately to get to the bottom of it all. The Board can’t even trust themselves.

    Step 3) VW pledges to work with all and sundry to correct this egregious oversight that was perpetrated by some overzealous employees that obviously aren’t good family members.

    I will be looking forward to their media manipulations.

    In the meantime, VW diesel owners should trade in their cars for a nice Dodge diesel with Cummins engine in order to improve air quality, as they put out up to 8 times less NOx that a Golf!

  49. Andy Says:

    Maybe its time to stop lab test and start with real world testing. I understand BMW i8 and i3 owners are complaining about their gas mileage, but BMW claims it will get that gas mileage because it was done in a lab. Why blame VW for being smart about getting around government test, like we haven’t seen that before.

    Remember the Saturn Vue that passed the insurance rear bumper test because the they put an extra piece of foam in the center of the rear bumper? (start about 4 minutes).

  50. Bobek says Says:

    It’s about time Californian’s realize that there perception of domestic built and owned vehicles are way off !the GM Ford FCA are as good if not better than any import check with JD Powers and others CR magazine etc. my last 5 vehicles were Chevrolets not one serious problem ever ! fit and finish warranty, dealerships etc. were all superb….so maybe they should try them and help our economy…Buy American made & owned…Bob

  51. Bob Wilson Says:

    The ICCT (International Council on Clean Transportation) has links to both the EU and USA studies. They contracted with the University of West Virginia to conduct the USA study.

    Bob Wilson

  52. W L Simpson Says:

    All the ills of the world can be traced to
    greed in one form or another.

  53. Chuck Grenci Says:

    The short answer to the decline of hybrids is of course cheaper gasoline but let’s also look at the fact that there is still battery anxiety that many people still have. There are also a lot of redundancies in the power supply, i.e., gasoline AND electric powerplants working together and separate that need a lot of computer and mechanical interaction, which is also a concern to buyers (at least as these complex machines age). Hybrids, electric, range extended electric are all wonders of our technology age, but when cheaper is ‘almost’ just as good, and cheaper, cheaper is seemingly winning out.

  54. Bob Wilson Says:

    Product placement coup, CBS did a story about VW halting diesel sales this morning and didn’t notice the car parked in front of the VW dealership. My username link is to the image captured from their broadcast.

    Bob Wilson, Huntsville, AL

  55. Ron Paris Says:

    #40 Who cares?

  56. Bradley Says:


    Doesn’t the Dodge Dart use an Italian Diesel engine, not a Cummins?

  57. Fred Says:

    I think the fall off in hybrid sales is linked to their cost and low gas prices. I own a Hyundai Sonata Limited Hybrid and my wife never lets me drive it. The car suits her driving mix of city and freeway.Mileage is good and the car is a high quality build. If the value is there the buyer will take a look.

  58. Bob Seeley Says:

    I find it very hard to believe that VW didn’t know that eventually they would be caught. Do you think they’ve made enough profit on these vehicles over the years to pay the enormous fines that they surely knew would be coming?

  59. Rob Says:

    IMO Hybrid sales are dropping because the newer turbo engines are achieveing @40 mpg and preform better when it comes to acceleration. So why buy something more complex and expensive as a hybrid to achieve maybe an extra 8-10 Mpg.
    12000 miles / 40mpg = 300 gal per yr
    12000 miles / 50mpg = 240 gal per yr
    Difference of 60 gal times $2.20 a gal =$132
    So in 5 years you save $660 in gas for a hybrid minus the cost of any electricity. Makes a Hybrid a lot harder sell.

    As for VW I bet there is a lot of scrambling right now to figure out who will be the scapegoat on this and protect upper management. Who is going to take the fall?

  60. Jerry VanWie Says:

    Way to go VW; great example for the

  61. Rob Says:

    Even at $4.00 per gallon the savings is $240 over 5 years its only $1,200

  62. HtG Says:

    54 If Schmidt were in the US he might be pressured by the Feds into giving evidence against his “bosses.” Do ya think maybe that’s why his “bosses” demanded he return to Germany this past spring? Qui bono?

  63. HtG Says:

    51 in re 40

    Come on now Ron, if you don’t think “a joke” is funny just don’t laugh at it.

  64. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ 52: I wasn’t aware that the dodge dart even offered a diesel.If they do,it would more then likely be a VM.

  65. Don LaCombe Says:

    I think VW should be barred from selling vehicles in the US for at least 5 years. This would send a message to all companies that intentionally defrauding American consumers is not tolerated. Service arrangements could be made with private companies to keep existing US cars going. This was not some emission engineer or manager trying to save his job due to missed targets. Because of the man hours involved in this type of project it had to come from senior levels.

  66. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Oppps.make that # 56.My bad..

  67. jack576 Says:

    I never heard anyone say, “I hate reporting stories like this because it gives the automotive industry such a bad name” when it’s GM that in trouble.

  68. Bob Wilson Says:

    #59 – try comparing city driving numbers. That is the briar patch that hybrids beat everything except electrics. Then drive an electric as many miles as a hybrid can go cross country.

    There is a lazy practice in automotive journalism to cite only the highway numbers as if we all drive in pristine roads with no other traffic. Reality is significantly different.

    Bob Wilson

  69. mjbtv Says:

    VW cheating? How? I know they use a chemical that is sprayed into the exhaust stream making it less poisonous and that works so why bother coming up with ways to cheat the system.

  70. mjbtv Says:

    And, the reason for the slump in sales for Hybrids and others they are not made in the thousands and look at the entire industry, its all down. car dealers are the biggest rip offs on the planet and now the people know. So, I suspect that sales are not as good as they used to be for any car.

  71. Bob Wilson Says:

    This VW stunt has all but guaranteed more hybrid sales in the future. Google up:

    “Volkswagen, Audi Expect to Electrify Entire Line-Up” (September 16, 2015)

    “Hybrids to slowly replace diesels at Mercedes” (September 21, 2015)

    “Toyota sees hybrids making up half of domestic sales” (March 26, 2015)

    #69 – the ‘chemical’ is a urea compound to purge NOx from the catalytic converter. Although these systems can work, both the USA and EU studies showed many are just ‘eye wash’ and fail in real life. They are called Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR).

    Bob Wilson, Huntsville, AL

  72. Kit Gerhart Says:

    61 Driving 12K miles a year, at $4 a gallon, a Prius will save about $3K in fuel cost over 5 years compared to a Focus hatch, the closest non-hybrid to a Prius in the US market. That is using CR’s “overall” test results. The difference would be greater using the EPA “combined” numbers. If a lot of your driving is stop and go, the Prius would save more in fuel. If most of your driving is moderate speed highway, it would save less.

  73. Ron Paris Says:

    #63 Sorry HTG, I’m just so sick of seeing Jason Vines referred to like he’s the second coming of the automotive Christ! I couldn’t stand the guy on AAH and was glad to see him disappear from the automotive scene. At least for a while!

  74. Brett Says:

    If VW were banned from selling passenger vehicles in the USA for five years, would we notice? :)

  75. Bob Wilson Says:

    #70 – percentages can be misleading. So here are the top, USA hybrid numbers for May, June, July, August 2015:

    11921, 9559, 11203, 10450 – Prius hatchback
    3763, 2756, 3517, 3844 – Prius c
    3174, 2755, 2756, 3314 – Camry Hybrid
    3152, 2272, 2620, 3119 – Prius v (wagon)
    2440, 1691, 2157, 2441 – Ford Fusion hybrid

    My username link has the full table.

    Bob Wilson, Huntsville, AL

  76. Kit Gerhart Says:

    56, 64 No diesel in the Dart, VM diesel in the Ram 1500, and Cummins in the Ram “HD.”

  77. HtG Says:

    73 no problem, Ron. I was referring to Vines’s book on the Ford/Firestone rollover debacle, “What Did Jesus Drive?” A crisis like vw’s is the kind of experience Jason has worked through.

  78. Rob Says:

    #72 Yes and the Prius has a starting MSRP of $24,200 While the Focus starting price is $17,225. So $6975 difference.
    That means you have to keep the Hybrid 11.6 years to justify the savings in fuel at $4.00 which its not currently at. At todays prices almost 20 years to make the hybrid cost effective? Batteries cost what?

  79. Wayne Says:

    I wonder how Italian designed and engineered and Mexican-built Dodge and Chrysler cars will appeal to the American buyer in the future? How about the lost jobs going to Mexico?

  80. HtG Says:

    Bloomberg reports that Justice has opened a criminal probe of vw. That there is what we call a Referral. Keep in mind, DOJ recently said its focus would turn to prosecuting individuals over corporations.

  81. HtG Says:

    79 What’s Spanish for Hellcat? Gatodiaboliquo?

  82. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ 36,John McElroy: Yer gonna make us wait till thursday?? LMAO. I’m a waitin’.Nothing like a big ol scandal to rouse th’ troops ;}>

  83. Denis M Says:

    One thing that nobody has mentioned yet is what will happen to those cars to don’t meet emission regulations? Will their computers be re-flashed and what if their owners refuse because it will lead to lower performance? Can VW be forced to buy the cars back due to misrepresentation since their entire advertising campaigns were based on “clean” diesels?

  84. DanChester Says:

    This VW emission cheating scandal looks like it is a far bigger deal than the hot water Mitsubishi got into in Japan over safety defect cover ups a few years back. Mitsu’s reputation took a big hit over that and it still ranks at the back of the pack. I suspect VW’s image will be hurt at least as badly. Nobody respects a cheater. As for those looking for a bargain VW diesel when the resale values tank, bear in mind that the states will no doubt figure out how to flunk your Vee-Dub in an emission test if the software has not been updated. So, you’ll have to live with whatever driveability, performance and economy penalties results from the reprogramming VW will be forced to do. Time will tell whether this will be a deal-breaker or not.

  85. HtG Says:

    If I were the US I wouldn’t want to punish vw in a way that overly burdened consumers. They are the victims along with people that breath air.

    I read now that Germany, the EU, and Korea are opening investigations. Uh oh.

    NYT is also writing about it. In their chronology, vw fessed up to EPA on Sept. 3. But on Sept. 1 new stricter emissions standards went into effect in Europe. Interesting, no? Sept. 1, new rule and Sept. 3, admission.

  86. Kit Gerhart Says:

    78 I cross shopped the Focus when I bought my Prius. By the time you added what it took to get similar features including “keyless go,” auto temp control, and auto trans, the Ford was not a lot cheaper, about $2K as I remember.

    A base Focus hatch with a 5-speed manual, no auto temp control, no “keyless go,” is now $18,960.

    Regarding cost of ownership, a 5 year old Prius probably holds its value substantially better than a 5 year old Focus. I’ll look it up, and see what I find.

  87. Tom in Plano, TX Says:

    VW: Gotta love it! As a realtime systems engineer, I applaud the cleverness of the engineers to pull this one off – and for so long! I’d love to hear the story behind how it was discovered. If I owned one of these, I certainly wouldn’t let the dealer ever touch it again!

  88. Kit Gerhart Says:

    84 Many states, including Indiana and Florida, don’t have emissions testing, so you might be able to get by driving one of them in its standard “dirty” mode. You can be pretty sure, though, that you won’t get by doing that in California, and some other states. Smog-prone metro areas of California are seriously affected by NOx emissions, and they will want these cars cleaned up, or off the road.

  89. Bob Wilson Says:

    #78 – the problem with MSRP is it does not compare the standard Prius equipment versus what are expensive options on other cars. For example, the 2016 Ford Focus, hatchback, requires the “Titanium Hatch” to get an automatic transmission and it lists at $24,600.

    Prius owners figured out a long, long time ago that the standard Prius has a lot of expensive options on anything else . . . especially after the wife puts in her requirements.

    Bob Wilson, Huntsville, AL

  90. Doug Says:

    Hybrid sales are a bit of a question, but it could be surmised that (a) larger vehicles are getting better mileage than before and (b) there aren’t any hybrid small crossovers. If there was a hybrid Chevy Equinox that could get 40mpg city (same powertrain as upcoming malibu hybrid) then you might see some more uptake. But for now… it’s less a value prop.

  91. Kit Gerhart Says:

    90 The car companies still think that people who buy SUV’s don’t care about gas mileage, which is largely true, but yeah, I’d think the smaller crossovers, largely used as “city cars,” would sell well as hybrids, if the price premium were not to high.

  92. Ziggy Says:

    I’ll reserve judgement on VW until I hear their side of the story, just because the government says it is so doesn’t mean it is. Just look at all the times the government was wrong before when it came to supposed flaws with cars, the Audi and Toyota unintended acceleration come to mind as overblown gotchas that turned out to be false. Just saying …

  93. HtG Says:

    vw admitted everything to the EPA already. Which executives are culpable, that is not yet known.

  94. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Can they extrodite Piech?

  95. HtG Says:

    NPR was doing the vw story this evening. They’re saying, “the EPA has alleged,…” But I think vw has admitted to making the software defeating device.

  96. Albemarle Says:

    I think we need to keep in mind that what VW did was just plain wrong. It doesn’t matter how bad the EPA is, or what they did to a river. It doesn’t matter that other manufacturers are doing things, or that many states don’t test so wouldn’t know anyway. It’s not about being caught.
    VW had the capacity to do the correct thing. As far as we know, every other car company does. So if they couldn’t do it themselves, they could have licensed the technology. They acted in a morally bankrupt fashion; anxious for world domination and profitability at any price. Throw them to the lions. If they cheat on this, how can you trust them about anything?
    Good thing we don’t take manufacturer’s word for it about crash testing. It’s unfortunate that we have to rethink the trust relationship with manufacturers about emissions.

  97. HtG Says:

    94 vw headquarters outside DC has a staff of people among whom the govt may be able to find those it can squeeze. According to O. Schmidt there are also vw emissions testing labs located in the US. Then higher-ups can be cornered. Also, email.

    ‘O. Schmidt,’ now that might be a good title for the next Autoline After hours

  98. Rick Wakefield Says:

    Regarding the topic of EV’s and Plug-In’s:
    A lot has already been said that I agree with, but for what it’s worth, I have been giving thought to buying a Chevy Volt next year when the new generation comes out for sale.
    I’m not an early adopter or a tree hugger, nor have I spent any time looking at the numbers of how much I can save in fuel over the time I own/lease the car compared to other cars of similar size and options.

    To answer Johns question I think that,

    #1, One of the reasons that sales are down is the early adopters and the tree huggers have chosen their vehicles of choice.

    #2, Cost of gasoline. For the people that do the math and are concerned about their cost’s over their projected time of ownership, or lease term, has proven to be not beneficial.

    #3, I think one of the biggest drivers of low sales numbers is due to the AVERAGE person, not the car enthusiasts that regularly participate in this site’s conversations/debates, are concerned with the cost’s, or fear of cost, to repair, maintain and replace parts on a vehicle after the warranty is over and the depreciation value, over time, of the car which is one thing they can look up on the internet.

    #4 Last but not least is my personal statement, is the lack of gasoline tax in this country that is not helping the sales of these cars and not helping the national economy at all.

    Rick Wakefield.

  99. Kit Gerhart Says:

    96 I’m wondering if they did have the capacity to do the diesels, where they would meet emissions requirements, and work well enough that anyone would buy them. Honda and Mazda kind of gave up on their promised high mpg car diesels.

    It turned out that we left too much to the manufacturers on mpg testing, as H/K and Ford found out.

  100. cwolf Says:

    I wonder if this will effect diesel pump prices in the near future?
    The UAW agreement with FCA is most handsome. In a way, I am happy for the workers, but sense bonuses for hitting targets will not be as high as in the past. Nor do I believe agreeing to the exporting the production of passenger cars a wise move since more automation within the next few years may have benefitted the American workforce. I only wish the UAW worked as feverish for its UAW suppliers as they are for the OEM’s. Sadly, I think the UAW knows and is all too willing to allow the OEM’s to squeeze the suppliers for lower costs just to pay for the others raises. Kinda like robbing Peter to pay Paul!

  101. HtG Says:

    Defeat Device

    When the EPA uses this term, Defeat Device, it makes me think they are referring to a specific line in a federal statute. It’s exact language.

    96+99 I think one factor here is cost. The urea solutions to NOX are so expensive that the carcos using it are eating some of the cost rather than ask the customer to pay the premium. vw was trying to play at the low end of diesel prices where margins are thin.

  102. cwolf Says:

    #98 Mr. Wakefield: The Volt is a good choice and is tops in customer satisfaction. For my type of driving, I would buy a Volt over a Prius because it rides and drives more like a larger car. Like’em both to say the least.

  103. Albemarle Says:

    I just read in Ars Technica that a Passat with the urea system also failed the on road emissions test at the same time. The BMW X5 diesel passed easily. Looks like the solution will be more than just adding a urea tank. VW and Audi better license some of that BMW technology. ouch…

  104. Rich Olimpio Says:

    On the VW cheating story. VW should be required to repurchase all of the cars in question at full original sticker price (regardless of age or condition) and remove them from the U.S.

  105. Kit Gerhart Says:

    …and the X5 diesel gets EPA numbers of 24/31, not bad for a 4800 pound tall wagon with mandatory 4wd in the US. BMW must know how to do diesel emissions, unless they are cheating, and we don’t yet know it.

  106. Joe Engelhardt Says:


    Cheap gas, death nail to hybrids. Did the VW diesel kill anybody like the GM ignition switches? A small increase in Nox, please take a reality pill. I think VW ought to get an award for fooling the EPA fools!

  107. Kit Gerhart Says:

    105 If you live in LA, or other areas that have photochemical smog, you would care about NOx emissions. As far as people “killed by GM ignition switches,” if you run off the road and hit a tree, not using your seat belt, and are injured or killed, there is a lot more at fault than the car. Also, if you ignore suggestions not to hang a bunch of stuff from your key, that also applies. Mercedes-Benz has had similar issues, but we don’t hear much about it.

  108. HtG Says:

    105 GM was prosecuted and fined to the full extent of the law. The US attorney in NY said individuals would have been charged criminally if the laws and evidence could have supported it. But we have rule of law not govt. The govt is restrained and GM worked closely with the govt in its investigation. Here with vw a company has spent a year lying to the govt about its criminal activity. It’s not going to be pretty.

  109. Brian Little Says:

    Eventually, someone in the government will ask the question: “If VW screwed up on the Diesel EPA tests – what other tests have they screwed up on?” Another question to ask: “If they screwed up on the engineering side – what have they done on the financial side?” This opens up Pandora’s box since trust has been lost. This will take years if not decades to regain trust.

  110. Rob Says:

    Kit I know you love your prius and maybe used sales values are better then the Focus when within 5 years of manufacture date. However I just cant see anyone that knows anything about cars buying a 5-8 year old hybrid without getting a new battery pack included in the deal. Not only that, how well does that hybrid preform when the batteries are 8 years old. As the range becomes less so does the advantage.

  111. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It is much, much worse, 11 million cars world-wide.

    Volkswagen Says 11 Million Cars Worldwide Are Affected in Diesel Deception

  112. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Rob, #109 I’d be uninclined to buy a Prius with the battery off warranty, or soon to go off warranty, unless I got the car at a very good price, but here’s what I know.

    A friend has a 7 year old Prius with near 200K miles, with the original battery, which runs, and gets mpg like it always did. At some point, as cells start to die, the mpg and performance with diminish. It seems to be a long time before that happens, at least with gen 2 Priuses. It’s too early to know for gen 3 like mine. Maybe we can find links with good info on Bob Wilson’s web site.

    Older Priuses have a failure rate for the batteries of low single digit percentages/year, probably lower than the transmission failure rate for a number of cars, and a new battery for a Prius costs less than a new transmission for many cars. Also, even if you need a Prius battery, used batteries should be available from wrecked cars at a low price. There are a lot of Priuses out there, at least 2nd and 3rd generation ones.

    Most of what I say here applies only to Priuses for multiple reasons. Prius batteries are known to have a long lifetime. There are a lot of Priuses on the road, prospective donors for used batteries. Prius batteries are relatively inexpensive, especially compared to any plug-in car, about $3K for a new battery, vs a subsidized $5500 for a Nissan Leaf. Batteries for other pure EV’s would cost a lot more than that.

  113. HtG Says:

    Did vw bet the company?

  114. Rob Says:

    111 Honda Toyota and Ford warrantee their battery packs for 8 years and 80k miles. I would suspect their is a reason they picked, what seems like a random 8/80 among typical warrantees of 3/36k, 5/50k and even 5/100k.

  115. Kit Gerhart Says:

    113 It’s 8 years, 100K for Toyota hybrids, longer some places, like CA, at 10/100K.

    The actual failure seems to be related more to age than miles, though I’m sure temperature is also important. I doubt if the last as long in Las Vegas as they would in place with a temperate climate.

  116. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That’s 10/150K in CA.

  117. Steve Ashley Says:

    Hybrids have always been a oxymoron. Two power plants, more parts and complexity, equates to digging a much deeper hole in the environment just to build them. Looks like some people are finally waking up to that fact. Sadly others never will.
    Steve Ashley

  118. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It’s hard to find real information about the environmental impact of making hybrid cars. The energy usage must not be too huge, or the cars would cost more than they do. There will be issues with recycling/disposal of the batteries at the end of their life, and that will be worked out, or already has been. Tens of millions of lead acid batteries are recycled annually, in a reasonably environmentally friendly way. The same can happen with other battery types.

  119. HOJOLO Says:

    I sure hope that VW does get the book thrown at them for this but sadly there is precedent that they will likely face a small fine of about $65 per car so really not a hill of beans. The truck diesel companies did the same thing and that is the fine they got $83mill for 1.3 million motors if I was a executive at VW I would look at that judgement from the EPA when the decision was made to rig these engines and say this is just the cost of doing business less than a set of floor mats lets do it. If they get caught they get their hand slapped if not whoo hoo better bonus for me each year till it is caught then I retire early. Any way you look at it they win.
    see link below from the EPA web site about the original diesel cheaters and how much they got fined of course they only put out 3x the allowed amount of NOx not 40x
    There truly is nothing new under the sun just different cheaters with the same old shell game

    Detroit Diesel Corporation Diesel Engine Settlement

    On October 22, 1998, the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency announced an $83.4 million total penalty against diesel manufacturers, the largest civil penalty ever for violation of environmental law. Under this settlement, seven major manufacturers of diesel engines will spend more than one billion dollars to resolve claims that they installed computer devices in heavy duty diesel engines which resulted in illegal amounts of air pollution emissions. This settlement will prevent 75 million tons of harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions nationwide by the year 2025. The companies involved are Caterpillar, Inc., Cummins Engine Company, Detroit Diesel Corporation, Mack Trucks, Inc., Navistar International Transportation Corporation, Renault Vehicules Industriels, s.a., and Volvo Truck Corporation.

    The seven companies sold 1.3 million heavy duty diesel engines containing illegal “defeat devices,” which allow an engine to pass the EPA emissions test, but then turn off emission controls during highway driving. As a result, these engines emit up to three times the current level for NOx a harmful air pollutant.

  120. Joe Engelhardt Says:

    119 excellent comment, the problem is in 1998 we were not ruled by a communist dictator! He has placed EPA officials with his own hinchmen. More people were exposed by their dumping in the river of heavy metals by EPA, then the hazard of slightly higher Nox by VW!