The news that Volkswagen has lied its schnitzels off for years about hazardous emissions comes as a huge surprise to me because I always thought VWs were the soul of sensibility and honesty. In the early ‘60s, our family had the only Volkswagen in the whole county. It was a cute red Beetle with an engine in the rear that cost, brand-new, maybe three grand.
This car appealed to the penny-pincher in my Daddy, who discovered to his delight that the Bug was exceptionally easy to work on in the unlikely event anything went wrong. Plus, the four of us could easily fit into it, until I started putting on weight anyway.
Over the years, every car I bought was compared unfavorably to that VW Beetle and its impossibly good gas mileage and reliability. My Daddy never met a VW he didn’t like, even after they moved the engine into the front like everybody else.
“They know what they’re doing,” he’d say, admiring a little green Golf as it passed. Even the bulky Tiguan, although no one has any idea how to pronounce that one, was hailed as “probably ahead of its time somehow.”
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Turns out, not so much.
As everyone knows by now, more than 11 million VWs were equipped with a sneaky “defeat device” which disguised emissions that were up to 40 times the amount allowed by the EPA.
For someone raised with near-reverence for all things Volkswagen, the news has been a bit of a shock. While my childhood Beetle was all about affordability, more recently VW had the lock on quirky advertising that appealed to the eco-aware upper middle class types. Think about it. When’s the last time you saw a Passat with a bumper sticker that read “Gun Control Means Using Both Hands”?
Now that everyone knows about The Big Lie, VW faithful are understandably upset. They should be. The slightly overpriced car they bought because it was not only better for the environment but also easily accommodated all those crates from the CSA they had to deliver every week is actually belching more carcinogens than gran’s Buick.
You feel frau-dulent.
We wanted to believe that it was possible to have the power of a diesel that only spewed flower petals and pixie dust from its dual exhausts. Alas, it was a lung-choking stew of nitrogen oxides. Their bad.
The only positive to come out of this is that Apple is ramping up to rescue this demographic and may roll out its first car by 2019.
This is great news! You love your Apple computer, right? You couldn’t live without your Apple iPhone, right? You adore your new Apple watch, right? OK, two out of three… In the meantime, Volkswagen should go back to its basic Beetle and keep it simple. Make a car that can be quickly tinkered into perfection with just a wrench and a kitchen spatula under the shade of a magnolia tree. Works for me.