The world auto population is about a billion, and less than one percent of that fleet are VW’s alleged “dirty diesels”. Of the errant TDIs, less than ten percent are in the U.S and less than one percent are in California. amounting to around 75,000 in total. For most of the world this whole “scandal” is over, VW having admitted fault and come up with an acceptable fix… Except for the U.S. and state of California!

One would think that CARB and the EPA would thus evaluate their bargaining position and realize that VW could follow the lead of Scania, MAN, Peugeot/Citroen, and Suzuki et al and bid goodbye to the unappreciative U.S. market and it’s non-world standard regulations. And given how they let GM, the whole heavy truck making industry, and more recently Navistar off easy with vague promises of “we’ll fix it (someday)” for similar cheating, CARB and EPA’s sudden “zero tolerance” approach to VW does look rather nationalistic.

But EPA and CARB even more so are a on mission from the gods of environmental purity, though they’re still trying to figure out just what environmental purity is.  Thus these environmental high priests of California and the U.S., despite having .5% and 5% of the world’s population respectively, expect to be honored and obeyed despite their oftentimes stupidity. The domestic manufacturers and a few world manufacturers have learned how to play their game and even game them- “We’ll happily meet that emissions standard, and thanks for that billion dollar grant to help us do so”.

But VW plays by Euro rules, where they long ago figured out that pm2.5 and NOX are fixed problems, and global warming is a more pressing one. Thus Euro regulation favors diesel as the most achievable way to cut greenhouse gasses, and most of the rest of the world has adopted the Euro standards, except that oddball market known as the U.S with Canada along for the ride, and California with a vengeance. And VW is so Euro that they only recently got into the pickup market, and the compact segment only at that. And while the big three and asian transplants crank out SUVs by the millions, VW is finally tooling up to build one in Chattanooga. Meanwhile VW has added Scania and MAN to their holdings, and they’re doing just fine despite choosing to ignore the U.S. market. That suggests VW wouldn’t really miss the less than a tenth of their cars that get sold here.

Thusly VW’s new chief exec bumbled through the Detroit Auto Show media feeding frenzy and meetings with CARB yesterday and EPA today, through it all showing that he’d totally skipped the usual “media relations” executive training. Rebuffed, CARB and EPA thus rejected VW’s plan to get the “dirty diesels” legal, forgetting that the law only requires that VW bring their cars into compliance, not curtsy and kiss their pinkies too.

I think I like this new VW CEO!