We were being offered the full amount originally suggested, which would be used to pay off the car loan. In addition, there was a significant restitution amount that would be sent to me. The result was that I was being given more for the two-year-old Beetle it had cost in the first place. In fact, I sold the car back to VW for a nice profit.
This settlement was nice for me and nice for the other half-million owners of cars with those same diesel engines, but it’s not nice for Volkswagen and it’s problematic for companies that make cars that run on alternate fuels. For example, investigators are already looking at some diesel vehicles produced by BMW to determine if their engines were configured to deceive emissions testing systems by a means similar to those employed by Volkswagen.
At the same time, prosecutors in the U.S. and in Germany have begun filing criminal charges against Volkswagen executives involved in the scandal and some have already been convicted and received jail time.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen has been having trouble getting its proposed fix for six-cylinder diesel engines approved by courts and regulators. These engines went into more expensive cars from VW and Audi and a mandated buy-back will cost the company a lot of money.
But the trouble goes beyond Volkswagen and beyond just diesel engines. Already federal investigators are checking other vehicles for defeat devices similar to those on diesel engines, but outfitted with gasoline engines. And the scandal's effects have spread beyond the U.S. VW has sold nearly 11 million diesel vehicles world-wide and most of them are suspect.
While Volkswagen will continue to sell diesel vehicles outside the U.S., there’s significant doubt whether the company will ever again sell a diesel-powered automobile in the U.S. Because diesel engines are more fuel efficient than an equivalent gasoline engine, the U.S. will effectively be shut out of a more efficient engine design – at least from VW. While other manufacturers ranging from General Motors to Mercedes Benz are continuing to sell diesels for now, there are already questions about them.
Even if those other diesels prove to actually free of emissions cheating technology, which so far they have, there’s concern in automotive circles whether the problem has caused them to lose favor in the public’s eyes. It hasn’t been that long since diesel engines were thought to be slow and smoky and as a result they sold in small numbers.
All it really needed to put these efficient engines on the slow slide to death was to cast further doubt on them. In the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, that may already be happening.