7 Volkswagen Cars Involved in the “Dieselgate” Scandal


By now, the gist of the Volkswagen scandal that has come to be known as “Dieselgate” will be familiar to many readers, but we’ll start with a quick recap nonetheless. On September 18, the EPA submitted a notice of violation (NOV) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to the German automaker for seven of its turbocharged direct injection (TDI) Clean Diesel models that were sold in the U.S. An added lashing from the California Air Resource Board (CARB) hit VW executives at the same time.

According to the allegations, which have forced Volkswagen’s top executives to resign, software known as a “defeat device” was used to circumvent testing for pollutants in these diesel vehicles’ engines. Rather than getting an accurate picture of the car’s emissions during regular use, the device reins in the car’s performance when it detects a test, deceiving regulators as to the pollutants it would emit (and fuel economy it would achieve) when operating normally.

Over the years, American consumers bought about 482,000 of these models (at last count).

Hence the hubbub that caused the stock of the world’s (current) leading automaker to fall about 30% in four days. Autos Cheat Sheet will continue covering this scandal along with Volkswagen’s response, but for now we offer a list of VW models at the heart of the scandal.

Here are the seven Volkswagen diesel cars on the firing line of Dieselgate.

1. Volkswagen Jetta TDI

New York Auto Show Media Preview
Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

Jetta is the top-selling nameplate from the Volkswagen Group. Its TDI model is not on sale for the 2016 model year, but cars sold between model years 2009 and 2015 were cited by the EPA in its violation notice. According to regulators, the nitrous oxide levels for cars like this one could produce emissions that are “up to 40 times the standard.”

2. Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI

Source: Volkswagen

Like the sedan, the Jetta Sportwagen does not have a 2016 edition on sale in the U.S., but there were six model years in which U.S. consumers had access to this TDI model (2009 through 2014). The Golf Sportwagen that appeared for the 2015 model year delivered more space than this model an effectively replaced the Jetta wagon on the U.S. market.

3. Volkswagen Beetle TDI

Source: Volkswagen

The modern edition of the classic VW Beetle (or “Bug”) was another model named by the EPA on its notice of violation for the use of a defeat device. Model years 2012 through 2015 were included in its action. In addition, Clean Diesel Beetle TDI Convertibles on sale for model years 2012 through 2015 were also named on the list. 

4. Audi A3 TDI

Source: Audi

The Audi A3, named the World Car of the Year at the 2014 New York Auto Show, also finds itself in the crosshairs of the Dieselgate scandal, specifically the TDI edition sold in model years 2010 through 2015. Overall, the A3 is nearly doubling its sales totals in the U.S. this year, and it will be interesting to see how the black eye on diesel variants affects the standard gasoline and upcoming A3 plug-in hybrid models.

5. Volkswagen Golf TDI

Source: Volkswagen

Speaking of World Car of the Year, the Volkswagen Group had a winner on its hands when the Golf took the award at the 2013 New York Auto Show. The 2015 edition also won Motor Trend’s Car of the Year. Unfortunately, the TDI editions from both entries are part of the Dieselgate scandal. Model years 2010 through 2015 were named by the EPA in its notice.

6. Golf Sportwagen TDI

Source: Volkswagen

Consumers looking for a diesel wagon to haul the kids efficiently may have turned to the Golf Sportwagen TDI that hit the market for the 2015 model year. This vehicle is one of the Volkswagens cited by the EPA for use of the defeat device in emissions tests. It offered more interior space than the Jetta Sportwagen it replaced in America.

7. Volkswagen Passat TDI

Source: Volkswagen

Finally, the VW Passat TDI on sale in the U.S. from the 2012 model year through the 2015 model year was the seventh make cited by the EPA in its violation notice. It was estimated at 44 miles per gallon in highway driving by the EPA for its manual transmission model. The 2015 Passat, down 16% in sales for 2015, will likely continue its decline on the U.S. market with the latest news.

Thanks to GOOD CAR BAD CAR for sales statistics.

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