VW Demanded Subsidies for its “Clean” Diesel

By Paul Gipe

In what amounts to one of the auto industry’s greatest displays of Chutzpah, VW demanded the same subsidies for its diesel engines as was being offered to Electric Vehicles (EVs). The demand was being made at a time and by executives who knew—or should have known—that’s VW engines were anything but clean and in fact exceeding air pollution standards not only in North America but also in Europe.

This startling revelation, only a rumor until now, was revealed in an interview of a former EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) employee by the New York Times.

The New York Times reported that “Volkswagen lobbied hard before the announcement, demanding that its diesel engines receive special fuel economy credits for their environmental friendliness, just as zero-emission electric cars were receiving. The credits are helpful to automakers’ efforts to achieve the new standard — a 54.5-mile-per-gallon fleet average by 2025.

“They wanted a special deal for diesel cars that we now know weren’t even meeting the standard,” said Margo Oge, a former director of the E.P.A. Office of Transportation and Air Quality, who helped lead negotiations with the automakers, including Volkswagen, at the time.

Volkswagen did not just consider its clean diesels comparable to hybrids or plug-in electrics; it believed they were superior, Ms. Oge said.

“These people had religion,” she said. “And that religion was diesel. They simply did not believe in electric powertrains and thought they were a waste of time.”

Further Ms. Oge said that “The Volkswagen management was extraordinarily arrogant. They thought they were the kings of diesel.”

The VW scandal continues to unfold and each new revelation seems to top the last.