For motorists looking for sporty but environmentally friendly alternatives to sluggish hybrids, diesels like the Volkswagen Jetta TDI has been a welcome addition to the U.S. market. The ability to deliver real performance along with high mileage is one reason why diesel sales have continued to grow even as demand for gas-electric models has plunged in the face of cheap gas.
But that growth spurt is likely to sputter out, industry insiders warn, in the wake of the Volkswagen cheating scandal. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered the recall of 482,000 VW diesel models, revealing that the maker had used software to scam the government’s emissions tests.
In real world situations, vehicles like the Jetta TDI actually produce up to 40 times the permissible level of noxious emissions.
“This is another black eye for diesels,” said Mike Jackson, CEO of Florida-based AutoNation, the country’s largest automotive retailer. “You now have a passionate constituency that feels betrayed.”