Even as other automakers pull the plug on diesel in Europe, VW says the technology is in for a renaissance.
In the wake of Volkswagen's $30 billion emissions scandal revolving around diesel emissions rigging, the technology has been the subject of a worldwide witch hunt. A wave of bad press has followed numerous automakers that have either been caught in the crosshairs of Dieselgate, or pulled the plug entirely on their diesel programs in favor of battery-electric or hydrogen technologies. But the company who started it all believes customers will soon forgive or forget, especially once the latest round of 'actually' clean diesels hit the market.
"Diesel will see a renaissance in the not-too-distant future because people who drove diesels will realize that it was a very comfortable drive concept," Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller told Bloomberg at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show. "Once the knowledge that diesels are eco-friendly firms up in people's minds, then for me there's no reason not to buy one." It's a bold statement considering the widespread fallout caused by the scandal, including potential banishment from German, Greek, and Danish cities. As a side effect, it's also accelerated talks of phasing out the internal combustion engine by governments in China, France, and the UK, among others.
While electric technologies are emerging, Volkswagen believes diesel will still be necessary in order to meet stringent European CO2 goals. Carmakers in Europe need to lower fleet emissions to an average of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer by 2021, which is up from 118 grams CO2 in 2016. The problem is, EVs still aren't really a viable solution for long distance or frequent driving. "The rules of the game in the EU in relation to climate protection and emissions goals on CO2 are so challenging that governments cannot do without diesel," VW's Mueller said. "We're doing everything to avoid" coming up short, but "if there's less diesel, then getting to that goal just gets tougher."