Despite single-handedly turning much of the world against diesel engines with an emissions cheating scandal that was revealed in 2015, Volkswagen is doubling down on them.
Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Mueller told Bloomberg that diesel could come back stronger than ever.
"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," he said at the Geneva Motor Show, which is going on this week.
"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," Mueller continued. Volkswagen appears to be adopting this strategy to comply with fleet carbon dioxide emissions restrictions.
This stance is particularly surprising, considering the revelation in 2015 that 11 million VW diesel cars were found to have been using cheating software to spew fewer harmful nitrous oxide emissions during testing. In reality, when not under testing conditions, the cars were putting out up to 40 times the allowable rate.
In the wake of the scandal, a massive recall was announced, Volkswagen was forced to spend $30 billion in fines and fixes, and diesels from other manufacturers have undergone increased scrutiny from governments worldwide. Countries including Germany, Italy, and India have announced outright diesel bans in certain regions.
It has caused other carmakers to reevaluate their diesel strategies as well. Some, like Toyota, have said they will no longer sell diesel cars in Europe, focusing on hybrid drivetrains instead. FCA plans to eliminate diesel cars by 2022. Both will continue to offer diesels in trucks and SUVs. Others, like GM and Mazda, have said they will continue to invest in diesel technology.
Even if Volkswagen pursues diesels globally, it is unlikely U.S. buyers will see a VW diesel any time soon. Reaction to the scandal was especially harsh in the U.S., with regulators forcing VW to buy back approximately 500,000 “clean diesel’ cars from customers at market prices.