What the future holds for Volkswagen fans remains to be seen as it will have to win back the customer loyalty that helped make it the world’s largest vehicle manufacturer.
Despite its efforts to gain the trust of customers, some VW diesel owners say their loyalty can’t be bought back.
“I don’t want this car fixed. I just want to get rid of it,” said Russ Boswell, a Toronto bass player who has performed with several Canadian and international recording artists, on tour and in the studio.
The owner of a 2013 Golf TDI Wagon, Boswell bought the car brand new and logs about 30,000 km a year travelling for business and pleasure.
“The reason I bought it was that it got good mileage and it was advertised as ‘clean diesel’ but the fact that they would do this—install deceptive hardware—makes me want to get rid of it as soon as possible,” Boswell said.
“It’s not like overlooking something. They went out of their way to do this.”
Boswell said when he bought the Golf he was willing to pay a premium price, more than $30,000, because he believed he was getting great performance, low fuel consumption and reduced emissions.
“Every time I go to visit my dad in Bobcaygeon it’s like driving 40 cars. Think of it, one car polluting like 40 cars. It’s absurd.
“I don’t think I should be put in a position to have to put out any new money and for me to sell it, or trade it in with 90,000 km on it, I’m going to lose in the end,” he said. “I would like to buy another brand and wash my hands of all of this.”
Boswell said he would “definitely” join a class-action lawsuit.
For Tim Massarelli having his 2011 Jetta TDI written off in a car accident on Oct. 23, a month after the VW emission scandal broke, meant not being able to get a brand new diesel Jetta, which his insurance policy would have covered.
Massarelli, a business development manager who lives in Laval, Quebec, was sold on the clean diesel features of the TDI engine.
“Part of my motivation was to lessen my carbon footprint. Did I think I was going to save the planet? No. I know diesels pollute just as gas engines do, it’s just that there’s less because you’re burning less fuel.”
Massarelli’s Jetta sustained severe front end damage when it collided with an SUV on the way home from work. There were no injuries.
His insurance company said he could spend $37,500 on a new Jetta, but since Volkswagen stopped selling diesels due to the emissions scandal he couldn’t get the same car.
Because he needed to get a car right away, Massarelli opted to buy a new Toyota Camry hybrid instead.
“I would have gladly taken a brand new Jetta TDI,” he said. “I’m concerned about Volkswagen surviving this and a lot depends on whether they find that other car manufacturers were also doing it. It’s not an excuse, but it could help Volkswagen’s situation.”
“The emission test issue has affected our pricing,” said Steven Stark, the company’s owner.
“Whenever we advertised diesel and turbo diesel (vehicles) there would be all kinds of people waiting to buy. Now we don’t even say diesel anymore and they’re going for between 30 to 35 per cent lower than what we were getting before this.
“Volkswagen turbodiesel was always so sought after that we’d have four or five people wanting each one that came through our door and now if we can sell it, the customer basically wants to steal it. They’re just not a desirable item anymore,” said Stark.
By the numbers:
Ads for VWs on Kijiji:
Up 12 per cent across Canada, up 6 per cent in Ontario
Replies to ads for VWs on Kijiji:
Down 15 per cent across Canada, down 16 per cent in Ontario
Ads for VW diesels on Kijiji:
Up 11 per cent across Canada, no change in Ontario.
Replies to VW diesel ads on Kijiji:
Down 17 per cent across Canada, down 12 per cent in Ontario