Volkswagen is fuming over the Obama Administration's proposal to double auto fuel efficiency, saying the plan unfairly values hybrid and all-electric cars over clean diesel, a technology VW has pioneered.
VW, Europe's largest automaker and the fastest-growing automaker in the United States, already offers turbodiesel cars, station wagons and SUVs that routinely get nearly 50 miles per gallon on the highway.
"A lot of good work has been done, but there is room and a need for some improvements to keep a level playing field for all automakers to attain the challenging new goals," said Jonathan Browning, chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America.
VW saw its sales grow 40 percent in October and has estimated that about 22 percent of its U.S. sales are turbodiesels. The German automaker's recent restyling and resizing of its cars to meet American tastes, has catapulted its standing with U.S. consumers.
A ConsumerAffairs.com analysis of more than 93,000 postings on Twitter, Facebook and other blogs and social media finds net consumer sentiment for VW staying firmly in positive territory for the last 12 months and vaulting to roughly 80 percent in the last month.
|Blue line shows net sentiment|
No less an authority than non-profit Consumer Reports recently tested all of the mass-produced “Eco Cars” and named the Volkswagen Jetta TDI the winner. The turbodiesel Jetta Sportwagen got 49 mpg on the highway and 36 overall ini CR's tests. Other cars tested included the Ford Fiesta, Mazda2 and the Honda CR-Z, which performed so poorly that CR said it could not recommend it.
Consumer "likes" during the year don't single out turbodiesel's mpg performance but do take note of efficiency, performance and positive findings by reviews like those quoted above.
Volkswagen is one of the few major automakers that did not sign onto an agreement that underpinned the Obama proposal to boost efficiency targets to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, a target VW already approaches today with its clean-burning turbodiesel engines.
Besides overlooking the benefits of diesel, VW said the Obama plan unfairly favors the biggest pickups -- a staple of U.S. automakers General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.
Japanese manufacturers currently dominate the hybrid market. GM makes the Chevy Volt, which so far is not setting the world on fire.
European manufacturers have long favored diesel engines, which deliver superior mileage and relatively low emissions.
Volkswagen's mid-size Passat TDI, which gets 43 mpg on the highway and is one of the brand's top sellers in the U.S., is built in Chattanooga, Tenn., the automaker noted.
Couldn't be better
Traditional consumer groups generally fell over themselves to praise the plan.
“The new standards could not be coming at a better time for consumers. This year, consumers are on track to spend a record $2,900 on gasoline per household. The average American family simply cannot afford to keep throwing good money after bad fueling up gas-guzzlers,” said Dr. Mark Cooper, Director of Research for the Consumer Federation of America.
“Once fully implemented, the new 54.5 MPG standard will save households $6,000 per car over the vehicle’s lifetime, while spurring automotive innovation that will create better choices for consumers. Americans love their cars, and they’ll love them even more when they go farther on a tank of gas,” Cooper added.
2012 VW Passat TDIVolkswagen is fuming over the Obama Administration's proposal to double auto fuel efficiency, saying the plan unfairl...