Letter To CARB: Forget Volkswagen’s Diesel Woes – Force Automaker To Accelerate Zero Emission Vehicle Rollout

2 years ago by Eric Loveday 75

Your new clean diesel turns outto be less clean than you thought?

Your new clean diesel turns out to be less clean than you thought?

2016 Volkswagen e-Golf

2016 Volkswagen e-Golf

In a letter to  California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols, signed by 44 individuals (including Tesla CEO Elon Musk), a call is being made to sort of forget Volkswagen’s diesel woes and instead force the automaker to “accelerate greatly its rollout of zero emission vehicles.”

This electric car push was a point we made 3 months ago when the diesel scandal first came to light.

The letter is reproduced in its entirety below, but the gist of it is that it’s not worth it to force Volkswagen to “fix” the non-compliant diesels. Instead, the giant sum of money should be put to better use, which includes massive support of zero emissions vehicles by Volkswagen.

An Open Letter to California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols

The VW emissions scandal is mainly the result of physics meeting fiction. In the simplest terms, we have reached the point of de miminis returns in extracting performance from a gallon of diesel while reducing pollutants, at least at reasonable cost. Unsurprisingly, and despite having the greatest research and development program in diesel engines, VW had to cheat to meet current European and U.S. standards. Meeting future tighter diesel standards will prove even more fruitless.

For a significant fraction of the non-compliant diesel cars already in the hands of drivers, there is no real solution. Drivers won’t come in for a fix that compromises performance.

Further, solutions which result in net greater CO2 emissions, a regulated pollutant, are inappropriate for CARB to endorse. Retrofitting urea tank systems to small cars is costly and impractical. Some cars may be fixed, but many won’t and will be crushed before they are fixed.

A giant sum of money thus will be wasted in attempting to fix cars that cannot all be fixed, and where the fix may be worse than the problem if the cars are crushed well before the end of their useful lives. We, the undersigned, instead encourage the CARB to show leadership in directing VW to “cure the air, not the cars” and reap multiples of what damage has been caused while strongly advancing California’s interests in transitioning to zero emission vehicles.

The solution we propose for VW and the CARB is to, in a legally enforceable form:

1./ Release VW from its obligation to fix diesel cars already on the road in California, which represent an insignificant portion of total vehicles emissions in the State, and which cars do not, individually, present any emissions-related risk to their owners or occupants

2./ Instead, direct VW to accelerate greatly its rollout of zero emission vehicles, which by their very nature, have zero emissions and thus present zero opportunities for cheating, and also do not require any enforcement dollars to verify

3./ Require that this acceleration of the rollout of zero emissions vehicles by VW result in a 10 for 1 or greater reduction in pollutant emissions as compared to the pollution associated with the diesel fleet cheating, and achieve this over the next 5 years

4./ Require that VW invest in new manufacturing plants and/or research and development, in the amounts that they otherwise would have been fined, and do so in California to the extent that California would have been allocated its share of the fines

5./ Allow VW some flexibility in the execution and timing of this plan by allowing it to be implemented via zero emission vehicle credits.

In contrast to the punishments and recalls being considered, this proposal would be a real win for California emissions, a big win for California jobs, and a historic action to help derail climate change.

The bottleneck to the greater availability of zero emissions vehicles is the availability of batteries. There is an urgent need to build more battery factories to increase battery supply, and this proposal would ensure that large battery plant and related investments, with their ensuing local jobs, would be made in the U.S. by VW.

A satisfactory way to fix all the diesel cars does not likely exist, so this solution side steps the great injury and uncertainty that imposing an ineffective fix would place on individual diesel car owners. A drawn out and partial failure of the process will only exacerbate the public’s lack of trust in the industry and its regulators. By explicit design, this proposal would achieve, in contrast, a minimum of a 10X reduction in pollutant emissions as compared to a complete fix.

There is a precedent for this type of resolution. In the industry-wide 1990 diesel truck cheating scandal, the EPA chose not to require an interim recall but instead moved up the deadline for tougher standards to make up the difference. This proposal does the same for VW and ties the solution to a transition to zero emissions vehicles.

We strongly urge CARB to consider this proposal in resolving the VW cheating scandal.

Ion Yadigaroglu, Partner, Capricorn Investment Group
Elon Musk, CEO, Tesla and SpaceX
Jeff Skoll, CEO, Jeff Skoll Group
Dipender Saluja, Inside Straight Strategies
Carl Pope, Partner, Capricorn Investment Group
Chamath Palihapitiya, CEO, Social Capital
Ira Ehrenpreis, Partner, DBL Partners
Hal Harvey, CEO, Energy Innovation
Antonio Gracias, CEO, Valor Equity Partners
Lyndon Rive, CEO, SolarCity
Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club
Cole Frates, Renewable Resources Group
Ari Swiller, Renewable Resources Group
Lawrence Bender, Producer, An Inconvenient Truth
Reuben Munger, Partner, Vision Ridge
Jigar Shah, President, Generate Capital
Jason Calacanis, Angel, Launch Fund
Gregory Manuel, Partner, MNL Partners
Adam Wolfensohn, Partner, Encourage Capital
Jason Scott, Partner, Encourage Capital
Martin Roscheisen, CEO, Diamond Foundry
Steve Westly, Former California State Controller
Jules Kortenhorst, CEO, Rocky Mountain Institute
Steven Dietz, Partner, Upfront Ventures
Kevin Parker, CEO, Sustainable Insight Capital
Anja Manuel, Partner, RiceHadleyGates
Larry Lunt, CEO, Armonia
Mindy Lubber, President, Ceres
Tom Darden, Partner, Cherokee Fund
Panos Ninios, Partner, True Green Capital
Jesse Fink, Chairman, MissionPoint
Matt Breidert, Senior Portfolio Manager, Ecofin
Suhail Rizvi, CEO, Rizvi Traverse
Jeffrey Tannenbaum, Chairman, sPower
Rob Davenport, Managing Partner, Brightpath Capital
Stuart Davidson, Chairman, Sonen
Laurence Levi, Partner, VO2 Partners
Rob Day, Partner, Black Coral Capital
Dan Fuller, CIO, Fuller Smith
Nicholas Eisenberger, Partner, Pure Energy
Marc Stuart, CEO, Allotrope Partners
Justin Kamine, Kamine Development
Peter R. Stein, Managing Director, Lyme Timber
Bruce Kahn, PM, Sustainable Insight Capital
Raúl Pomares, Managing Director, Sonen

via Green Car Reports

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75 responses to "Letter To CARB: Forget Volkswagen’s Diesel Woes – Force Automaker To Accelerate Zero Emission Vehicle Rollout"

  1. TAP says:

    Do these guys not know how CARB works?
    They have laws to enforce. They can’t let VW just go, and not fix the diesels. It doesn’t work that way.

    1. Nick says:

      They are not proposing letting them go, they are proposing a fix which would do even more good.

      1. Taser54 says:

        CARB does not have that power.

        1. SJC says:

          That is right, CARB does not have that power, it would take new legislation.

        2. Nix says:

          CARB doesn’t have the power to force a solution like this, but they can certainly enter into a consent agreement with VW that CARB will dismiss the penalties that they do have the power to enforce, if VW agrees to this solution.

  2. Mister G says:

    GREAT PLAN…I hope VW does the right thing.

    1. Ed Hart says:

      I think there is real merit to what Musk and others are proposing. Firstly, the VW situation has no precedent, thus perhaps Musk’s equally unprecedented proposal will likely find a strong welcome in both Sacramento and Wolfsburg. I think CARB can figure out a way to make this fit the law.

      From its current fully-discredited position, Volkswagen could quickly find itself “kickstarted” down the road to global leadership in electric vehicle design and manufacturing. Even though there is the strong desire for revenge from customers, competitors and governments, the world would be better for an “electrified Volkswagen.” What irony that would be.

      Were I the CEO of Volkswagen, I would leap at the opportunity to “shift gears” to electric vehicles, and I use it to reshape my company for the electric future. There will be pain, no matter what course Volkswagen choses. But the proposed route has the potential for a very bright future in both corporate image and market position. Among business recovery stories, a resurgent Volkswagen would have no equal!

      Cleaning up a Diesel is very difficult Very soon we will see that the Diesels of other car company will come into question. Fall of 2015 is likely a watershed period in the history of automobiles.

      Lastly, a question many of us have had for over a decade is “How do you make a Diesel clean enough to meet the current standards, and why would a company invest in Diesels when meeting future standards looks impossible.” It seems the answer from Volkswagen was, “We cheat today and will be able to cheat in the future!” Well…..it did not work out that way.

      1. Forever Green says:

        +1 Ed Hart

      2. pjwood1 says:

        I think a bigger stretch, than suggesting the diesel regs are “impossible” is:

        “Cleaning up a Diesel is very difficult Very soon we will see that the Diesels of other car company will come into question.”

        Here’s why questions won’t reveal “another VW”:
        -as said, the tech is there
        -in light-duty economy cars, it was the ECONOMICS that weren’t there.
        -During manufacturing way of complying is still <$500 each (BofA, SeekingAlpha, etc). That may be too much for a "Jetta", and the other players of the eco-segment who wisely balked, but it is still no big deal for Audi/BMW/MB. GM makes light-duty eco-diesels, but perhaps why they didn't push them is because the economics, (cough) when you comply, aren't there.

        VW still fights having to clean up its act:
        http://tinyurl.com/ndd4urr The new messaging is that we're just diesel-hating Americans.

      3. oldevguy says:

        MICRO TURBINES FOLKS!!!!

  3. Emc2 says:

    Great proposal, let VW compensate the damage and do some more!

    1. ggpa says:

      +18 billion

      Yes, it is a great idea, a win-win for VW and CA.

      I doubt CARB has the power to do that, but the legislature must be able to do it. Hi, is anybody listening?

  4. Matthias says:

    As an owner of a TdI, I have personally been cheated by VW. I want to personally be compensated by VW by having them sell me a PHEV (the Golf GTE or the Passat GTE) for the price of the base model.

    1. Vexar says:

      That’s probably a good offer. They would love net new sales like that.

  5. RexxSee says:

    Isn’t CARB infiltrated by hydrocarbons companies since the EV-1 era?

    But I find it’s a great article. It’s obvious that the transition must be a lot faster, and also obvious that car makers are doing all they can to avoid it.

    1. przemo_li says:

      CARB is about clean air in quantitative numbers and measures.

      They where offered better deal. Instead of few ZEVs, many “a bit more” efficient ICEs. It worked in 90’s. However now we have bigger and bigger gap between limits and reality. So I think CARB will move more toward ZEVs again.

      However VW investigation fall under strict rules governing potential fines and required compensations.

  6. Dave R says:

    Impressive list of signatures and a great idea. I wonder if there’s a compromise – a minor, inexpensive change to the affected diesels that reduce emissions a significant amount (similar to what’s being done in Europe) and then use the balance of what full compliance would take for ZEVs.

  7. mustang_sallad says:

    Surprising to see there’s no mention of charging infrastructure. Maybe they presume that an investment in charging infrastructure would be necessary to support the cars they would be required to sell. It’s very noble of Elon Musk to sign onto this and encourage competition for his own company, but I almost wonder whether the letter originally had an item #6 requiring VW to build out DCFC infrastructure, and Elon said he would only sign it if they got rid of that line. My guess is he’s still holding out hope for other automakers to pay him for access to the supercharge network.

    1. Anon says:

      Your baseless conspiracy hypotheses are tiring… Zzzz.

      1. mustang_sallad says:

        Okay, maybe a bit of a stretch, but do you not agree that it’s surprising that charging infrastructure is left out of this letter?

        1. RexxSee says:

          No, this is a secondary issue, the pump is not mandatory like an ICEV or an FCV, because most of the charging is done at home. Electrics are not slave of the pump as ICEs are.

          Insisting too much on the charging infrastructures is deceiving people not familiar with this other enormous advantage of Electrics over infernal combustions.

          It is another way to hate EVS.

  8. pjwood1 says:

    I think it is a bad, self-empowered plan. First, the premise is flawed as EPA did not set an unachievable target. Urea injection is all we’re talking about, and works on GM’s Cruze diesel (get WVU on that, if you don’t think so). Second, a legally inescapeable obligation is to the OWNERS. If they thought they were buying <.07gr/mile NOx, VW still has to make that right. Despite what the letter suggests, they can.

    1. Lindsay Patten says:

      “which cars do not, individually, present any emissions-related risk to their owners or occupants”

      Is there “damage” to owners other than the amount of emissions being higher? If the emissions are offset by reductions elsewhere are the owners still owed something?

      1. przemo_li says:

        CARB vs VW is legally separate topic and litigation then Owners vs VW.

        CARB DO NOT have any mandate to regulate Owners vs VW. For such there are different institutions.

        This letter only propose solution for CARB vs VW.

    2. sven says:

      Yeah, it’s kind of like automakers writing and signing a letter of CARB proposing that CARB not fine Tesla for it’s illegal excess NOx emissions from its Fremont plant, and instead make Tesla give access to its Supercharger network to EVs from other manufacturers. After all what good would a monetary fine do? The Fremont factory can’t “fix” its already emitted and continuing excess NOx emissions. Opening up Tesla’s Supercharger network to other brands of EVs would “accelerate greatly” the “rollout of zero emission vehicles” by other automakers.

      1. Anon says:

        As you well know, the scale of emissions between Tesla and filthy Diesel VW’s are not even on the same scale / comparable. And, as you also well know, Tesla self reported the emissions and replacement hardware has been ordered to replace the out of spec unit for the paint department. Again, only your anti-Tesla trolling would be craven enough to try to make biased comparisons of how VW and Tesla manage their emissions.

        1. sven says:

          Anti-Tesla trolling? I just made an analogy to a hypothetical self-serving letter to CARB by other automakers. I wasn’t suggesting that CARB should punish Tesla for it’s excess NOx emissions in the way the hypothetical letter suggested, just pointing out that the letter sent to CARB was self-serving with regards to Tesla.

          Anon, FYI, you’re my favorite Tesla fanboy on InsideEVs. You should consider changing your screen name to Tesla Fanon. 😉

          1. Get Real says:

            And Sven your now the leading anti-Tesla troll on InsideEVs now that See Through has been banned.

            1. Jay Cole says:

              Just as a random point. See Through was not banned, but apparently did not want to remain a member of the community under the guidelines of not habitually over-running multiple threads with multiple comments stating the same premise.

              The change was instituted just to make the IEV community a more pleasant environment to discuss the topic at hand (not as a commentary on the opinions held). We tried to explain it to all the parties even-handedly and said they were all welcome to stay.

              Of the six posters that were contacted, 2 decided to leave, while the other 4 have graciously just pulled back on their passion a little bit, and I think has gone fairly well, (=

            2. sven says:

              Get Real,

              It’s you’re, not your. When you try to insult someone on the internet, please use proper grammar. I’m also the leading grammar-Nazi on InsideEVs. 😀

              1. pk says:

                Internet should be spelled with a capital I.

                1. sven says:

                  That’s debatable. A shift is underway that has “internet” changing from a proper noun to a generic term, losing its capital letter.

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalization_of_%22Internet%22

                2. wavelet says:

                  Not necessarily.
                  “Internet” is an ambiguous term, since it denotes both a protocol for interconnecting computing-device networks as well as any specific instantiation of those protocols connecting actual networks.

                  Even if you’re referring to the instantiation, capitalizing it implies it’s a proper noun, i.e., there’s only only one Internet.
                  Not so: There can be, and in fact, there are, multiple simultaneous instantiations that aren’t connected to each other, although the other ones are much smaller in scope than the large public internet.

          2. pjwood1 says:

            Thanks, Sven. I welcome the comment, and don’t see it as trolling. I’m still too stupid to spot the “teams” who go at eachother. The point Sven reinforced was the letter is self-serving. While owners have separate rights, what becomes of them if VW is released in its obligation to fix their cars? That was the No. 1 suggestion on the CARB request, and it is incompatible with those rights.

            Thinking more about the letter’s “A satisfactory way to fix all the diesel cars does not likely exist,..” may be a glimer of what somebody inside CARB, or the EPA, knows about VW’s E189 TDI engines. Those negotiations are private, with a couple financial houses predicting the costs at no more than $4,000 per car. I think VW simply doesn’t want this cash liability, and can in fact get there. The coal-electric industry has employed NOx catalytic reductions with great success. Not cheap, but possible. So, there’s some question whether these engines may be more difficult to tame, but I think this is more presumption than inside information.

            VW got off easy, in Europe, because these cars are beholden to the pre-2014 “Euro 5” .18gr/km (.29gr/mile) spec. This .29 is 4X higher than the U.S. .07gr/mile. Still, when you think about it, if VW fixed the 11mm Euro cars, whose emissions were close to WVU’s observed 40X.07, they’d have had to up the diesel feed to get down to (.29/.07), or 4X the U.S. maximum (going from 40X, to 4X). That means owners in europe can’t be seeing the same fuel economy, as extra diesel becomes the catalytic fluid that replaces the need for urea.

            Maybe Europeans should watch their fuel mileage, er kilometer’age?

      2. pk says:

        Except Tesla self reported the problem instead of lying about it for years and then denying the problem was there when prompted by the EPA.

        Also, one VOC burner != 11+ million vehicles. And it’s not in working (i.e. polluting) condition until it’s fixed. The 11+ million diesels are all still running (i.e. polluting) while we wait to see what happens.

        1. sven says:

          Excess NOx emissions are excess NOx emissions. And FYI, 100% on the Fremont excess NOx emissions were emitted in California, while only a small percentage of the worldwide 11+ million non-compliant VW vehicles were sold in California and CARB states (only 500,000 were sold in all of the United States).

          1. pk says:

            Opening up Tesla’s Supercharger network to other brands of EVs would “accelerate greatly” the “rollout of zero emission vehicles” by other automakers

            Do you really believe that access would make a difference? It’s a moot point if the EV in question can’t take the high charge rate which means it would need a decent size battery. The ICE manufacturers have shown no true intent on making a volume EV that wasn’t driven by government mandates. (Nissan/Renault notwithstanding) I don’t think they’ll be any more interested just because they’d get access to the supercharger network.

            Excess NOx emissions are excess NOx emissions. And FYI, 100% on the Fremont excess NOx emissions were emitted in California, while only a small percentage of the worldwide 11+ million non-compliant VW vehicles were sold in California and CARB states (only 500,000 were sold in all of the United States).

            Who cares where the excess NOx was emitted. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re all on the same pale blue dot.

            FWIW, I agree that there may be some ulterior motive to the letter given the larger percentage of VC/Capital companies in the list.

            1. sven says:

              Like I said a couple of comments above, it was just a hypothetical analogy to illustrate the absurdity of Tesla sending a letter to CARB to propose a punishment for it’s competitor (VW) for emitting excess NOx, especially when Tesla itself is subject to punishment from CARB for emitting excess NOx from it’s Fremont factory. I wasn’t suggesting that CARB actually impose the “opening-up-Superchargers-to-everyone” punishment, but offered it as an example of what a competitor like VW might suggest as a punishment if they had written a letter to CARB addressing Tesla’s own excess NOx violations.

              Tesla made a “financial decision” to illegally emit excess NOx from its Fremont factory, rather than shutting down production to avoid any excess NOx emissions. If Tesla would have shut down production to prevent excess NOx emission, it would have been a financial disaster for Tesla compared to the small or modest fine that CARB would impose for the violation. Tesla made the right choice, and should pay the fine imposed on it by CARB. But I don’t think it should lobby CARB regarding VW’s punishment for emitting excess NOx, especially when Tesla doesn’t have clean hands with regards to its own NOx emissions.

              pk said:
              “Who cares where the excess NOx was emitted. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re all on the same pale blue dot.”

              Yes, but CARB’s legal jurisdiction over emissions extends only to California and CARB states. The EPA would have jurisdiction of emissions in non-CARB states.

      3. RexxSee says:

        The Tesla super-charger network is already opened to other companies, but not one care to partner with the only genuinely zero emissions dedicated car company.

        Musk offered it publicly many times.

        Your attempt to picture Tesla as a polluter is laughable and nail you even more as the hater king!

      4. Lindsay Patten says:

        “Yeah, it’s kind of like automakers writing and signing a letter of CARB proposing that CARB not fine Tesla for it’s illegal excess NOx emissions from its Fremont plant, and instead make Tesla give access to its Supercharger network to EVs from other manufacturers.”

        That doesn’t seem analogous to me. Increasing the number of zero emission cars on the road would directly offset the excess emissions from the VW cars, thereby undoing the harm from VW’s cheating. Access to the Tesla Supercharger network would not directly offset emissions from Tesla’s plant.

        1. sven says:

          Free access to Tesla’s Supercharging network for competitors EV’s would increase sales of competitors EVs, which would also result in a similar sales decrease in the number of ICE vehicles sold by these competing automakers. The increase in EVs sold and decrease in ICE sold would result in less NOx emissions, offsetting the excess emission from Tesla’s Fremont plant.

          Anyways, I meant “analogous” in the sense of having a competitor propose to CARB a punishment for Tesla that benefits the competitor.

      5. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        sven said:

        “Opening up Tesla’s Supercharger network to other brands of EVs would ‘accelerate greatly’ the ‘rollout of zero emission vehicles’ by other automakers.

        Except it wouldn’t, because no mass produced EV other than the Models S and X can accept charging at the rate a Supercharger is capable of. And if they were, then the Supercharger network would be hopelessly swamped by too many EVs trying to use them all at the same time.

        In other words: Nice idea, sven, but not at all practical.

        1. RexxSee says:

          A deal with another company to use the Tesla standard would include accelerating the expansion or doubling the network, don’t you think?

    3. Nix says:

      I dont’t know what the actual cost of developing, testing, and retrofitting Urea systems to existing vehicles. But let’s play with some numbers just for fun.

      If it costs VW $10,000 dollars to fix each of the existing vehicles to retro-fit them with Urea systems, that $10,000 dollars would be better spent greatly discounting new EV’s and PHEV’s. There are 2 benefits.

      1) These will be new vehicles, so over their lifetime, the $10,000 will reduce the total amount of pollution compared to retro-fitting a vehicle with 100K miles on it already. Fixing those vehicles is like closing the door after the horse has already left the barn. It is better to off-set and put cleaner vehicles on the road that will have much cleaner emissions for many more years.

      2) Retrofitting Urea ONLY cleans up to a fairly dirty standard (compared to EV’s/PHEV’s). Where putting that same money into putting new, much cleaner vehicles on the road will greatly leapfrog even the best results that Urea system will produce.

    4. mike w says:

      A bad plan-yes I think so. Letting VW “off the hook” Not a good idea since VW will have to build some BEVs and PHEVs to meet future CAFE requirements. Maybe collecting the fine money and using the money to increase the tax rebates for anybody that buys a BEV is a better, faster way to get more ZEVs on the road.

  9. Boilingpoint says:

    Why should we reward VW and essentially help them finance their EV program after they decided to do the wrong thing time and time again?

    I think they should levy the maximum fine or fines possible and then use those funds to create an EV incentive program for consumers who buy EV’s. This would make EV’s even more appealing and force VW along with other manufacturers to accelerate their EV programs.

    1. Ambulator says:

      I agree.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Bravo! Well said, Boilingpoint.

    3. RexxSee says:

      Who cares? It would create quite a stir in the media and a momentum where EVs will become the car everyone wants.
      The goal always is to reduce pollution.

  10. MikeG says:

    The problem with this plan is that the VW/Audi diesels could never have been sold without VW cheating.

    The only remedy is for VW to purchase all their illegal diesels and immediately crush them.

    Anything else falls short from a health and safety standpoint.

    1. PVH says:

      Come on….use your brain a sec… average age of cars on the road in the USA is 11.4 years old. Do you really thing all those V8 gas guzzling trucks do pollute less than those diesel sipping TDI’s ?
      Then let’s crush all of them (trucks) as well that will give us in Europe a much welcomed pollution holiday (considering trade winds coming from west).
      No, I think this letter is an excellent idea but doubt it could fit CARB’s legal framework.

      1. MikeG says:

        The vehicles violate current pollution laws, spewing as much as 40x the NOx limit. Crush them as they have no place on the roads.

        Your argument about CO2 from V8 trucks being greater than the TDI is true, but V8 trucks meet the emissions standards that were required of them. VW/Audi diesels don’t.

        Your argument is more like let’s keep the coal burning power plants because there’s a lot of CO2 in building a new plant.

      2. wavelet says:

        @PVH: I don’t think the letter is appropriate addressed to CARB, since it’s completely outside the CARB mandate as a government agency; also, CARB applies only to California, whereas VW violated US Federal laws here (quite aside of other countries’ laws).

        That said, you will be surprised, but yes, as far as NOx goes, those TDIs actually pollute more on a per-vehicle basis than fullsize US trucks produced after 2000 or so, as long as those trucks comply with the law. Currently, BTW, US laws doesn’t differentiate at all a.f.a. pollution goes between cars and pickups, or engine/drivetrain types: All are subject to exactly the same rules (the big 12t+ trucks have different rules).

        In fact, I spent some time checking, after people joked VW would export the TDIs to 3d-world countries: There isn’t even a third-world country that has any pollution laws where those cars would be legal. It’s that bad.

    2. Lindsay Patten says:

      “the fix may be worse than the problem if the cars are crushed well before the end of their useful lives.”

      I don’t know how to weigh the environmental costs but crushing millions of cars, with all their embedded CO2 isn’t ideal.

      I wonder what the likelihood of crushing the cars is versus shipping them off to some country with more lax emissions standards.

      I wonder how practical it is to have one remedy in California and a different one everywhere else.

    3. Speculawyer says:

      I disagree. They did cheat and should pay for it. But the money would be better spent creating new clean cars instead of inefficiently trying to retrofit a relatively small number of cheating dirty cars that got out.

  11. Alaa says:

    I would like to add my name to the list.

  12. kubel says:

    I like the idea of more EVs on the road. I don’t like the idea of using an institution of theft and violence to force that result.

  13. Anon says:

    VW Culture Is too entrenced in Oil for propulsion, to suddenly switch economic / engineering / emotional motivation to move fully into sustainable electric transport purely out of the goodness of their respective corporate hearts. The execs downplay the significance of their corporate actions, still.

    I don’t think anyone can really force VW into something they’ve historically avoided for decades. CARB’s powers are limited, and infiltrated by oil folk, so I remain pessimistic twards the letter’s ability to become anything other than words fading in the wind…

    1. ffbj says:

      You sort of saved me the trouble. For one VW would never to agree to a concept such as this, much less to have to specifically comply with a series of nebulous pronouncements. A non-starter.

      In real news VW hires Ken Feinberg, of BP and GM compensation claims fame, the go to guy for corporate bad actors, to handle its U.S. claims from VW diesel buyers.
      VW is trying to limit the amount and length, of litigation by buying off customers.

  14. PVH says:

    Those car makers just do not see how they can amortize required R&D and development cost while selling 50K EV’s a year. Just let them one year or two and they will issue EV’s all right. Nothing wrong wanting to make profits selling cars.

  15. Nix says:

    There is precedent for this sort of EPA action. When Pep Boys violated EPA regulations and sold a whole bunch of cheap mini-bikes, scooters, etc that badly failed EPA requirements, they had to do something similar.

    The EPA counted up the estimated air quality damage that all the illegal products would do over their lifetimes. Then they calculated how many push mowers, corded electric mowers, and battery electric mowers would be needed to replace gas mowers to offset that pollution.

    Then Pep Boys were required to give away and sell electric mowers at a substantial discount until they met that requirement.

    That is the model that should be applied. All the damage over the lifetime of these vehicles in violation should be added up. Then calculate how much an EV or PHEV would reduce pollution compared to replacing a gas vehicle. Then require VW to sell EV’s/PHEV’s at a substantial discount until they have made up for the illegal pollution they caused.

    1. Get Real says:

      I couldn’t agree more Nix. The problems we are facing with climate change are so large that we have to think outside of the box and seize every opportunity to address the most important issue. If we can leverage VW’s lawbreaking into replacing these pollution machines with EVs then we have a real win/win for society.

    2. Speculawyer says:

      Fascinating! That is an interesting solution to the problem.

    3. Phr3d says:

      That does make you stop and wonder –
      Dear VW,
      as an alternative for the fines, you may offer Free (spec’d to superior quality and lifespan) lawn-mowers and snow-blowers for a period of five years after initial offering.

      Sincerely,
      EPA (&CARB)

      On a multi-pollution level, the elimination of these unholy terrors in five years would be a welcome blessing.
      ‘course, it’d be Really bad news for small-engine and existing LiOn-battery firms..
      P.S. You -will- of course, be required to purchase all companies harmed by this action.
      LOL

      1. Phr3d says:

        Rechargeable LiOn ELECTRIC lawn mowers/snow blowers was my reference, in case anyone cared

        (and even After buying Briggs & Stratton et al I hafta’ wonder if it wouldn’t be cheaper)

  16. Speculawyer says:

    I think this is a very good idea.

    Instead of wasting a lot of money on trying to fix a few stupid over-polluting vehicles, I’d rather see VW spend an equal amount of money on getting a serious plug-in vehicle program. It would be a much more efficient way of spending the money instead of wasting money on an inefficient fix program.

    No sense crying over spilled milk. And it would be even worse trying to scoop up the spilled milk to re-use. Just clean up the spill and get a milk container that won’t break. (yeah, that analogy failed.)

  17. Bill Howland says:

    People just fawn over anything that Musk has to say, when as Sven and others noted, he has an obvious axe to grind here. I find it rather disgusting, and hopefully, he will be ignored.

    Notice how there has been scant mention of Martin Winterkorn, nor that he will continue to be paid by VW.

    99.99 % of the rest of us never get deals like that. CEO’s love to say “I take full responsibility”, and then end up making arrangements to take absolutely none.

    He defrauded both other customers (the TDI owner here is ABSOLUTELY correct in feeling defrauded), what with VW’s effective CLEAN DIESEL propoganda, not to mention the diminished resale value of his car.

    They obviously know people always worry about the wrong things.

    VW also defrauded other German, French, and American brands that had to expend more money to make their Diesel products conform to the law.

    VW should be BANNED from all sales in the states for 12 months, and should be forced to pay unemployment insurance for their Tennesee workers as well as compensation for their American suppliers and dealerships.

    VW doesn’t want to pay up? Sorry, you won’t be selling any more cars in the states. Let’s see who blinks first.

    1. wavelet says:

      This letter should be sent to Congress (not a regulatory agency that has to enforce specific pollution standards, and certainly not CARB, a California state-specific agency when the matter is Federal).
      That aside, Musk signing it greatly weakens it, since as CEO of a carmaker, he clearly has a conflict of interest. Whoever organized this should have made sure it was signed by a range of civic leaders, environmentalists amd consumer-protection orgs, not businesspeople, and certainly not ones in the automotive sector.

  18. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    “…a call is being made to sort of forget Volkswagen’s diesel woes and instead force the automaker to ‘accelerate greatly its rollout of zero emission vehicles’.”

    The problem here is the same problem with CARB trying to mandate ZEVs back in the era of the EV1. Governments cannot mandate technological innovation, nor can they mandate the basic economic forces of supply and demand.

    Bottom line: If California (and other CARB States) attempt to force Volkswagen to suddenly switch a large portion of their sales from gasmobiles to plug-in EVs, the result will be that VW will stop selling cars in such States altogether. While this would no doubt greatly benefit Tesla Motors and some of the other signers of that letter, it won’t benefit the public at large.

    No company, not VW nor any other auto maker, can sell its core product below cost for long. Yes, we EV advocates would like to see every legacy auto maker start switching wholesale from gasmobiles to PEVs tomorrow, but market forces simply won’t allow that. Greatly increased demand for EVs will come when economics favor them, and not before.

    California would do far better to promote sales of PEVs by raising the State tax on gasoline sales. This is politically impossible to accomplish on a national level, because the Big Oil lobby’s influence on the U.S. Congress is so strong, but it should be possible in California, where the “green” lobby is also strong.

  19. Djoni says:

    Wait, wait a moment please.
    This letter might have some good, but first and foremost one thing struck me.
    First VW should recall immediately all those 11 million cars and recode the computer.
    Everyone is forgetting that those car can meet EPA or CARB specification as they are, because it is exactly what the cheating device did but only when tested.
    Of course the car would lose much appeal in performance, behavior and fuel consumption.
    But if the issue is to get car to respect the law, it could be done right now in a short span of time.
    Then let VW face their customer rage with any option that would satisfy them.
    They could keep the car an accept monetary compensation for lost of value, or ask for a replacement vehicle with a substantial rebate to compensate for the lost.
    VW could then offer the compliant again vehicle to anyone in any country that would accept such a less appealing car with an according price.
    And keep the fine in.
    It might cost VW much more than anybody think and it will stop much of the damage right now.
    And this way, it would force VW to straighten their mission on respecting the law and forecast environmentally better vehicle as they would have to be anyway.
    They cheat, they lose.

  20. Priusmaniac says:

    If pharmaceutics is to be taken as an example, when a molecule is discovered to be bad for patients they don’t just stop selling it, they have to remove everything that has already been sold and refund the buyers. If the pharmaceutics company knew the molecule was bad for the health of consumers and proceeded anyway, they face criminal charges.
    The VW equivalent is to remove and refund all the cars and face the criminal charges. On those charges a judge has to set a penalty which for instance could be inspired by the letter but that should not prevent VW from removing the bad molecule already sold on the market. So in any case the cars out there should be removed and crushed.

    1. Djoni says:

      There’s no need or good in crushing the cars.
      It would only add to the waste without getting nothing out of those.

      If you take your pharmaceutics example, you can’t make the pill complies with health mandate. but those car can be compliant with set standard.
      Less desirable, but usable in a prescribe an legal way. Just recode them all now!
      VW, might have a problem to resold the one that would be returned without a substantial discount, but they would have a usable car that might suit many and that is a problem they create and are responsible for solving it.
      I hope they stop the mess without adding any disgracing crush.

  21. GB says:

    These signatories are simply “talking up their book”, i.e., they are telling CARB to force VW/Californians to produce/consume more high cost EV’s so that they can line their on pockets with guaranteed profits from their related investments. Crony Capitalism at its worst. No Thanks.

  22. Forever Green says:

    The only new vehicles Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche should be allowed to sell in all the United States and its territories should be electric vehicles.