The rise in popularity of diesel engines – largely due to better mileage than gasoline engines – has put this country’s leading seller of diesels in a bind.
Volkswagen of America (VOA) is scrambling to improve the availability of the engines to satisfy demand for the diesel version of the Passat built at the automaker’s new plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Nearly 4,000 or roughly 40% of the Passats sold in July were TDI Clean Diesels.
Scott Wilson, media and communications manager for the VW Chattanooga plant, said VW could have sold even more diesel models, but was limited by availability. VOA is now in a position where it has to negotiate with other Volkswagen units for additional supplies of the diesel engines, which are becoming more popular with American consumers.
“We continue to see a healthy demand for the Volkswagen brand, despite the fact that we are entering a period of consolidated growth as we phase out 2013 model year vehicles,” Mark McNabb, chief operating officer, Volkswagen of America, Inc., said earlier this month.
“While we remain cautious in terms of the economic outlook, we are confident in the strength of our product offerings, particularly as we gear up for the 2014 model year introductions which bring a host of new innovations to the market.”
More than 75% of the diesel engines that are sold in the passenger car and SUV segments in the United States can be found under the hoods of Volkswagen models. Ever since 1977, when Volkswagen first offered a diesel in the Rabbit, the company has sold more than 1 million cars and SUVs powered by diesel engines in the U.S.
So far in 2013, Volkswagen has sold 56,480 TDI Clean Diesel cars, representing nearly a quarter of the cars it sells. Volkswagen offers clean diesel technology in seven different models, six of which get an EPA estimated fuel economy rating of 40 mpg or more on the highway.
To demonstrate the benefits of the TDI Clean Diesel engine, two teams of expert drivers recently set mileage records in a Volkswagen Passat TDI with a manual transmission. In 2012, a Passat recorded 1626 miles on a single tank of clean diesel fuel: an average of 84.1 mpg.
(VW’s new diesel could match hybrid mileage performance. For more, Click Here.)
Meanwhile in 2014, when Volkswagen will introduce its new 2.0-liter TDI Clean Diesel engine, offering both more horsepower and even better gas mileage.
(Click Here for more about VW’s second-quarter financial results.)
Last week, Oliver Schmidt, Volkswagen’s general manager of the Office of Engineering and the Environment, confirmed the new engine will make its debut.
“The Volkswagen Group is a leader in clean diesel technology,” he said. “With the introduction of the new EA288 engine, we are excited that our family of TDI Clean Diesel vehicles is continuing to improve and will be even more clean, fuel efficient, and powerful.”
Tags: German diesel sedans, TheDetroitBureau.com., U.S. diesel sales, U.S. diesels, VOA, VW, VW Chattanooga plant, diesel sales, joseph szczesny, passat diesel, thedetroitbureau, volkswagen of America, vw passat, vw passat diesel