VW won't relaunch 'clean diesels' as part of its US core, execs say

Volkswagen TDI 'clean diesel' television ad screencap

Volkswagen TDI ‘clean diesel’ television ad screencap

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Automotive News reported Tuesday that Volkwagen’s North American chief said the brand won’t bring back most of its diesels to the U.S. anytime soon.

“We are not stopping diesel. Wherever diesel makes sense as a package to the car, we’ll continue,” Hinrich Woebcken told Automotive News. “But in reality, we have to accept that the high percentage of diesels that we had before will not come back again.”

The about-face from the automaker isn’t wholly surprising. Volkswagen has announced plans to buy back more than 400,000 cars equipped with its diesel engine in one of the largest automotive consumer actions in history.

Still, the automaker’s formal abandonment of its “clean diesel” powertrain is a sea change for Volkswagen, which once heavily pegged its future on its TDI technology.

At one point, VW offered diesel engines an overwhelming majority of its lineup. One out of every five of new Volkswagens sold in the U.S. was equipped with a diesel engine, and the automaker lobbied for similar federal incentives afforded to hybrid and electric cars based on the powertrain’s purported “clean” technology.

That soured quickly after the EPA and California Air Resources Board notified the automaker last year that its diesel engines skirted emissions laws and would need to be fixed. Regulators and the automaker were at loggerheads shortly thereafter on how to fix those cars, before VW finally capitulated in a wide-reaching scandal that has cost the company billions.

Most recently, Volkswagen trotted out its electric vehicles and an all-wheel-drive version of its Golf wagon that would position the automaker away from diesel and toward more electrified models.

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