More than $22 billion in fines and buyouts later, the first fully emissions-compliant 2015 Volkswagen turbodiesels are rolling into dealers right now—in mid-2017.
The German automaker has completed the modifications necessary to certify one previously noncompliant 2.0-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder engine used in 2015 Beetles, Beetle Convertibles, Golf hatchbacks, Golf SportWagens, Jettas, and Passats. The roughly 11,000 "leftover" diesel VWs were tucked away after they were taken off sale when the EPA confirmed that the automaker had been intentionally and systematically cheating emissions testing.
VW wasn't allowed to certify any 2016 or 2017 models, and the automaker has indicated that it may stay out of the diesel game forever in the United States; this may very well be your last chance to buy a new, diesel-fueled Volkswagen in the United States—if you want one.
VW says that interested buyers should contact dealers directly to see if they have any suitably modified 2015 TDIs in stock or coming in. VW has advised dealers to sell the cars at their original 2015 retail prices, but markups seem likely given the recent upswing in used VW TDI resale values. That said, VW itself seems eager to rid itself of the leftover diesels with up to $8,500 in incentives, according to Cars Direct.
After all, used TDI inventories have dwindled since the vast majority of TDI owners have taken VW up on its federally mandated buyback offer rather than having the "defeat device" software routines modified.
The 2015 VWs now hitting the market have been updated with software modifications approved late last month by the EPA and the California Air Resources Board to meet federal emission standards for nitrogen oxides (NOx).
DON'T MISS: What's next for VW's global diesel crisis?
A little background: in late 2015, around 450,000 4-cylinder VW TDI models—TDI refers to the turbodiesel engine once marketed as "clean diesel"—were dubbed gross polluters by the EPA.
That was due to defeat devices hidden in their emissions software that made them pollute far less while undergoing compliance testing than in real-world driving. Some models emitted up to 35 times the amount of NOx allowed by the government. The findings and subsequent admission by VW marked the beginning of what was eventually christened Dieselgate, a global crisis for VW that is just beginning to wrap up in the U.S.
So far, only the 2015 models have been approved for modification and resale; it remains unclear whether that will be the case for other, earlier diesel models.