Nearly five times as many drivers selling used TDIs in immediate aftermath of “Dieselgate” revelations, Ontario records show
Nearly five times as many used Volkswagen diesels were put up for private sale in Ontario in the week after the firm’s “Dieselgate” TDI emissions scandal broke compared to the same period last year, Ontario’s used vehicle records show.
Between September 15 and 24th this year, 192 of Ontario’s mandatory Used Vehicle Information Packages (UVIP) were requested and issued for Volkswagen diesel models, compared to 40 over the same period in 2014, according to Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation.
It was on September 18th when the U.S. government released a letter outlining how Volkswagen’s on-road tailpipe emissions were found to be up to 40 times higher than allowed by law by using software that effectively “turns off” emissions controls when the car is running normally, but turning them back on under testing conditions.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that health-harming nitrous oxides were 10 to 40 times higher than the allowable legal limit, which on its own wouldn’t be dangerous for children with asthma or seniors with respiratory issues riding in the car, according to an EPA fact sheet, as the exhaust wouldn’t be expected to enter the passenger compartment.
“While individual vehicles don’t create a health threat, collectively these emissions add up to air pollution that can cause adverse health effects,” said the EPA’s online FAQ section about the issue, for owners and non-VW owners.
The software essentially worked as a prohibited “defeat device,” illegal both in Canada and the U.S., which have aligned emissions and pollution limits for every new vehicle on the market. Volkswagen TDI models affected include 2009 to 2015 diesel versions of the Golf, Jetta, Beetle, and Audi A3, as well as 2012-2015 versions of the Passat TDI. Volkswagen has not received emissions certification for 2016 diesel versions of these models, therefore neither Volkswagen Canada nor their dealers can legally sell them, though gasoline versions of all these cars are still on sale.
Volkswagen Canada has also put a stop sale to all affected used TDI vehicles at VW dealers, and diesel Audi A3 models as well. The 2016 Touareg is the only new Volkswagen diesel model available in Canada now, and quite possibly could become the only ’16 TDI to be available in 2015, as EPA officials have suggested that it will likely take months for VW to redesign and recertify updated 2016 models.
480% increase in VW TDI Used Vehicle Information Packages
The reason for the 480 per cent increase in Ontario UVIPs requested and issued over this nine-day period is somewhat unclear. The figures suggest that the breaking scandal sparked many more Ontario VW TDI owners than usual for that time of year to put their car up for sale, though an issued UVIP does not necessarily mean the vehicle was in fact sold. At the same time, there has been at least one report of Canadian Volkswagen dealers continuing to sell affected TDI used cars, with emissions disclaimers and warranty and performance provisos (http://globalnews.ca/news/2266131/dirty-vw-diesel-models-still-on-sale-at-canadian-dealerships/).
If it was mostly private TDI owners that rushed to sell their vehicles, they may have sold too hastily, because with more limited supply due to the stop sales and VW diesel’s relative popularity in the marketplace, TDI prices are bound to rise, not drop, auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers suggested.
“If and that is a big if these owners dumped their vehicles into the used vehicle market because of this scandal then they probably made a costly error in that in that in every situation I've studied - and there have been dozens - used vehicle prices for affected models go up in these situations, not down,” said DesRosiers in response to the MTO’s figures. “So if they sold then they could have sold for more if they had waited.”
With about 20 per cent of Volkswagen Canada’s sales consisting of diesel models, the corporate stop-sale order is affecting its Canadian operations proportionally more than in the U.S. Roughly 100,000 Canadian TDI owners are continuing to emit illegally high diesel particulate emissions, while in the U.S. car market that is roughly 10 times the size of Canada’s, approximately 482,000 TDIs are on the road.
The province of Ontario has set up a question and answer page for VW owners and the public, https://www.ontario.ca/page/volkswagen-diesel-models-and-emissions-testing, as has the U.S. government (http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/cert/violations.htm). Meanwhile, Environment Canada has confirmed that it is investigating VW’s use of defeat devices in tandem with the EPA, and also proactively acquiring other diesel vehicles from various other manufacturers to ensure that they are all within legal emissions limits. Volkswagen of America has also set up a website specifically for this issue, at www.vwdieselinfo.com.