Didn't VW learn its lesson from Dieselgate?
Remember diesel? It was the fuel we used to find in a handful of passenger vehicles and SUVs until around 2015 when Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche got caught using software to cheat emissions tests with engines that ran on the stuff. After that, it was all downhill for diesel as one-by-one, everyone from BMW to Jaguar started dropping diesel from their lineups. Now, the number of diesel engines available in the US can be counted on one hand, and you'll only find them as options on a few select trucks. But in a curious turn of events, VW isn't giving up on diesel entirely.
In a statement, the German automaker has committed to using diesel engines for the remainder of the 2020 decade, after which its entire lineup will be replaced almost entirely by EVs.
The Volkswagen Group, in the fall-out of what became known as Dieselgate, has plunged the vast majority of its resources into electrification. Not only has the group developed a plethora of EVs like the Porsche Taycan, Audi e-tron GT, and VW ID.4, but it launched Electrify America as a multi-platform charging network committed to improving EV charging infrastructure across North America. In Europe, Asia, and Africa, however, the company still sells several diesel-powered variants.
In an effort to not leave customers out in the cold, VW wants to prolong the lifespan of these engines. To do so, and to ensure that they now burn cleaner than ever, four-cylinder TDI models delivered in Europe after June 2021 are capable of running on paraffinic diesel, which is a newly developed fuel relying on bio-components.
These fuels are bio-diesels with a paraffinic base produced from biological waste like hydrotreated vegetable oil, cooking oil, sawdust, and more.
"Through the use of environmentally friendly fuels in the approved Volkswagen models, we are making it possible for customers throughout Europe to significantly reduce their CO2 emissions as soon as the fuel is locally available," explains Prof. Thomas Garbe, head of petrol and diesel fuels at Volkswagen. "For example, the use of paraffinic fuels is a sensible additional option particularly for companies with a mixed fleet made up of models with electric and conventional drives."
While this doesn't mean that diesel will make a return in the USA, it does fall in line with what sister brands under the VW Group umbrella have been pursuing. Both Porsche and Bentley have been actively pursuing synthetic fuel which can be run in gasoline-engined cars. Synthetic fuel is carbon neutral to produce and burns cleaner, and in some cases, is even more carbon-neutral than an EV powered by so-called "dirty electricity."