Volkswagen TDI 'clean diesel' television ad screencapEnlarge Photo
Many executives are gone. More than $30 billion dollars have been spent in legal battles, retro-fits, and recalls. Yet on Monday we learned that Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller believes there is a coming "diesel renaissance."
"Diesel will see a renaissance in the not-too-distant future because people who drove diesels will realize that it was a very comfortable drive concept," Mueller said Monday in Geneva. "Once the knowledge that diesels are eco-friendly firms up in people's minds, then for me there's no reason not to buy one."
That's a bold statement, as reported by Automotive News Europe, but it also shows that the German automaker plans to press forward with diesel models. This despite a handful of countries stating a mission to eventually ban diesel engines from large metropolitan areas.
Still, Volkswagen (and a handful of other automakers) believe there's a future (and future sales) to be found with diesel engines. If they can prove them to be the eco-friendly engines they were pitched to be, then perhaps that might be true. As it stands now, though, the fight to swing diesel engines back into the good graces of the car-buying public is an uphill battle.
Volkswagen has announced a push toward electric vehicles, committing to 30 electric cars by 2025 in 2016. Last year, the company said it would spend more than $42 billion through 2022 to develop battery-power and autonomous-driving technology. Embracing diesels once again seems to be counter to that strategy.
However, electric vehicles don't meed the needs of all the consumers. Additionally, a lineup of just gasoline-powered cars won't help an automaker reach aggressive emissions goals. So diesel engines will be required to cross these bridges in the short term. Electrification is the ultimate way forward, but we're not there yet. Infrastructure needs to improve, and consumer car-buying desires have to shift.
In the meantime, the path to electrification could veer back toward diesel engines for awhile. Volkswagen certainly seems to think so.