I have been a staunch environmental advocate since childhood. I am specifically doing as much as I can to limit my negative impact on the planet I inhabit, from solar hot water to rabid recycling habits.
When I saw something that I thought did a good turn ecologically, I tried to share that information to whomever would listen. I have been a specific supporter of Volkswagen's TDI engine and technology, to such an extent that I took a job selling VW here in Seattle.
During my time at both Carter and University Volkswagen, I was excited to help satisfy progressive Seattle's push toward cleaner fuels, hybrids, and higher fuel mileage. I represented University VW at local biodiesel conventions, and convinced close friends and family to go TDI using biodiesel. My email address starts with "glowplug".
I actively and successfully convinced clients to consider a more-expensive TDI Jetta rather than a comparable Toyota Camry hybrid or Honda Accord hybrid, based on what I was told by VW. I've been intentionally defrauded by VW, and so have many of my customers. I'm gravely disappointed in VW.
By now you've already heard that VW has admitted they systematically tricked people into buying supposedly environmentally-friendly vehicles that turned out to pollute up to 40x more than VW stated. They tricked the EPA, they tricked the State of California, they tricked roughly 482,000 car buyers, and they tricked me and my community.
I supported TDI and VW because I thought biodiesel was an environmentally -friendly stop-gap fuel. All of the VW literature and indeed their actions seemed to be pro-planet. They are certainly guilty of trying too hard to give everyone what they want, and now they are also guilty of massive worldwide environmental and economic fraud.
I was tempted to go along with the throngs of people who want to use this opportunity to get some kind of media revenge on VW for tricking us like they have, but then I had a more productive thought. (Ok, I also want revenge, but only the good kind of revenge, I promise!)
I was thinking this VW "clean diesel" debacle could be a big electric wake-up call for VW, and for the world at large. Could this be a game-changer? What if?
What if this is a direct and coherent signal that we as a species cannot afford to power our transportation future on petroleum combustion engines?
What if VW's true act of contrition wasn't even intended and this was the final proof required to rapidly transition the entire transportation industry from combustion to electric powered motors?
VW has effectively answered the question, "Can we sell a high-performance, environmentally friendly, diesel passenger car to the United States?". That answer is no, but VW has also created a way to truly redeem themselves environmentally in many peoples minds, and that would be to quickly shift to an all-electric fleet of high performance passenger cars.
They already have a great electric Golf on the road, and now they can capitalize on their own misfortune by upgrading that platform with more power and longer driving capacity. VW could engineer a Leaf-beater with awesome handling. They could spread the technology across their Touareg, Tiguan, Sportwagen, and (please) New MicroBus platforms to finally win back the Prius families. An all-electric 4WD R series Golf would sell out world-wide, as would a solar-boosted electric Microbus camper van, minivan or multi-van platform.
It will take a lot to earn back my trust in VW's direction, but pulling the glow-plug on combustion engines would certainly go a long way for me and my folks.
Until then, my technological and environmental support for VW is gone. My green heart is broken. While I will continue to drive a percentage of biodiesel in my 2004 Jetta TDI for now, I will even more actively search out my next electric-drivetrain car.
If anything, VW just accelerated my own passions and desires to invest in a solar-powered battery system for charging my next vehicle.
Hmm. I'd probably make a pretty good Tesla salesman.
Respectfully Submitted by Aaron Bruce Campbell. Copyright and CopyLeft.
September 28, 2015