walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

VW Owners Self-Flagellate: It is Officially a Thing

I've seen it twice. That makes it a thing. I'm saying so, so it is true.

Sam Grobart wrote the one I saw first, over at Bloomberg.


Here's the subtitle: "In which a cappuccino-sipping media professional loses the smug sense of superiority he once achieved just by driving a Jetta Sportwagen TDI."

Quotes: "I am a Northeast-dwelling, cappuccino-sipping, Whole-Foods-shopping media professional." About the Sportwagen TDI: "It was, I thought, the perfect car for a poncy Europhile such as myself: a German (Euro!) station wagon (so Euro!) with a diesel engine (Eurissimo!). The only thing more Euro would be a Citroën that ran on adultery."

But now the NYT is in on it.


"A committee of jurors, including the executive director of the Sierra Club and the president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, had just called it the “Green Car of the Year.” A review in this newspaper described the Jetta TDI, persuasively, as “easy on money, fuel and the planet.”"

"It was like owning a Prius in disguise, without the spongy brakes or the self-righteous appearance of scolding the gas-guzzlers of the world."

"Those of us who purchased the Jetta TGTBT (too good to be true) are now stuck with vehicles we cannot drive without making other people our victims."

Okay, so. Let's back these "clean diesel" cars up a bit and think about this. (a) A software recall service will likely make these cars behave in a way much closer to the way they were advertised as behaving (minus the zippy performance). (b) YES, pushing for more regulation/better testing/regulation/wtf is a good idea. HOWEVER, I think this is the wrong takeaway:

"For the rest of us, we need to acknowledge that some of our favorite phrases — “clean diesel,” “green car” and apparently also “corporate responsibility” — are just a contradiction in terms. But that shouldn’t let us off the hook either. Every time we complacently accept some company’s green-scamming promises, we allow ourselves to become the gullible partners in crimes against one another, and the Earth. And that makes us all just a nation of willing fools."

WE CANNOT JUST DISMISS ALL INNOVATION. If we do, we'll be stuck with what we have forever, and I'm pretty sure a lot of us think that's not good enough and we can do better. There are solutions that result in "clean diesel" (mumble urea mumble nox mumble nitrogen and water mumble). And some of those "clean diesels" even have good performance. Just because these con artists took advantage of us doesn't mean we need to disbelieve all the other innovation out there.

We need to do the hard work of assessing on a case by case basis.

ETA: Wikipedia on mumble urea mumble nox mumble diesel: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel_exhaust_fluid
Tags: politics, transportation
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