Been sitting on a story (like usual) for several days now. It first appeared in some of the less than mainstream Euro press, then got picked up by the Euro and world Main Stream Media (MSM), with attribution to the not so MSM ’cause neither VW or EPA will confirm or deny the story. The gist is that EPA will settle with VW if they commit to building electric cars at their Chattanooga plant.

Now if your corporation is on the hook for expensively making legal a half million diesel cars or even more expensively buying them back, and you already build an electric “compliance car”… This is a freakin’ bargain! Chattanooga is set up for flexible production, has excess capacity, and that capacity is in the process of being doubled. Just ship the assembly tooling over from Germany and slap together some E-Golfs in the unused corners of the plant. Granted, VW will probably lose money on every one they make like most “compliance cars”, but they’re only selling like three or four thousand a year…

And there is EPA’s problem- Electric car sales peaked in 2014 and have dropped to around 200,000 a year. That’s counting plug in hybrids too, for pure electrics like the E-Golf the numbers are even bleaker. But here’s EPA stuck with electric cars languishing in the market, and didn’t their boss promise a million electric cars by 2015? A quick press release on how they made sinner VW “get religion” and build electrics, a media event at the Chattanooga plant with VW looking all apologetic and EPA victorious, and then everybody gets drunk and forgets how easy they let VW off!

From the EPA that gave us unvented gas cans that leak way more gas when used then the old ones ever vented, would you expect anything less? And is the EPA that let GM and the diesel truck engine makers off with a slap on the wrist for previous emissions cheating about to “get tough”, and by doing so admit that they screwed themselves previously? Fat chance…

Then again, what if EPA sobers up before the deal is done and figures out that they’d better require some actual numbers of the alleged “dirty diesels” be replaced with electric cars, say a one for one ratio. And just to make it a deal the “dirty diesels” owners can’t refuse, the EPA tells the states not to renew the “dirty diesels” registrations. So EPA manages to make VW build and “sell” a half million electric cars, and most of them come with a $7,500 federal tax credit… Yup, they just screwed their own federal government out of three or four billion in taxes! Meanwhile, VW gets a bunch of state and federal grants to offset the losses they’re taking on each of these electric cars they have to make. Heck, if they play the government grants like Tesla does, they’ll make money on each of these electric cars nobody wants!

I doubt even that would move a half million electric cars and take the same half million “dirty diesels” off the road. And for damn good reason… I live 70 miles from the nearest VW dealer, and the “best case” range of an E-Golf is 83 miles. From what I’ve been reading on the E-Golf forums, range drops by around 30-40% in winter… to maybe 50 miles. Yup, just bringing home a new E-Golf and just about every electric car would involve an overnight trip. The route home from my nearest VW dealer has a motel at mile 10, and then no motels to mile 50, and with no charge points but for the usual 120 volt 15 amp outdoor outlets, charging’s gonna take all night… Looks like just bringing my E-Golf home will take three days!

Of course, EPA doesn’t think about these details, which probably explains why they’re such a screwed up agency. VW diesels always sold unusually well in rural areas what with the long commutes we have, and rural folks are natural gearheads and resourceful ones at that. Heck, I’ve seen multiple bidders show up for an auction with a dead 30 year old VW diesel in small print at the bottom of the sale bill. Now I’m on record offering to trade even up my ’13 Golf Sportswagen TDI for a new 300 or so HP AWD Golf R, but an electric… No way! But when the feds did cash for clunkers a few years back, they only required that the clunker be able to move under it’s own power. And certainly most dealers hungry for sales didn’t look to see if there were a couple folks pushing it or only the starter motor and not the real motor was functioning. If you strip off the emissions stuff the 140 HP motor from my ’13 will fit in and replace the 90 HP version of the same basic motor in my  ’03, and a bunch of other better bits will fit too.  Or maybe buy a gasser version of the same car with a blown engine and fix it with the “dirty diesel”… with the gas engine VIN, the DMV will be happy.

The EPA is run by “engineers” who largely wouldn’t know how to change the oil on a lawnmower, never mind move a train. Fortunately we’ve still got a lot of creative and resourceful folks in this country, and they’re hard at work doing DPF deletes and putting old engines in new trucks to keep rollin’. Seize affordable diesel cars and replace them with electrics… EPA, you don’t wanna go there!

But given EPA’s past ability to screw themselves, they probably will…

 

 

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