Last Thursday, we handed in the keys, signed some paperwork, and authorized the transfer of buyback funds to our account. With that, we closed the door on Dieselgate and, for the foreseeable future, all things VW-related.
As I detailed earlier on Everyday Driver, my wife and I are not purchasing a VW Group vehicle to replace our 2015 Golf TDI for reasons I will not rehash here. But what of other affected owners? How can VW Group convince people to stay in the fold, especially in light of this newest revelation? And what can owners do to get the best deal possible?
In the short-term, VW needs to ensure an efficient and painless buyback process for owners who want out now. On that front, I can report that VW managed our buyback process well. The settlement website was helpful, and despite the staggering volume (over 300,000 owners have already registered to participate in the settlement), we were able to schedule our appointment fairly easily. When we showed up for our buyback, I expected a long wait and lots of paperwork, but the experience was painless and quick; within 20 minutes, we were on our way back home. Throughout it all, I never felt pressured to make any specific decisions or to get into another VW--at least as far as the buyback is concerned.
Having said that, I never heard from our VW dealer at all since the scandal broke. I sympathize with VW dealers, who, after all, are Dieselgate victims as well. Nevertheless, were I in in a dealer's shoes, I would have reached out as soon as possible, barring any legal injunction—not with direct sales pitches, but to acknowledge customers' pain and offer to help those interested in replacing their affected VWs.
I'd also find out which owners purchased extended warranties that are still in effect and let them know they're entitled to prorated refunds. Even if owners opt for the fix, they'll receive extended warranties as part of the settlement, so any extended warranty is superfluous at this point. I spent a lot of money for this coverage, and had I not called the dealer and arranged for a refund myself, I doubt I would have received my money back.
Though the settlement with owners of 2.0 TDIs is official, the scandal is far from over. CARB has yet to approve a fix for 2.0 TDIs, so even if owners want to keep their cars, VW might have to buy them back anyway. Owners of 3.0 TDIs, meanwhile, have yet to settle with VW officially, though thankfully VW and owners have finally reached an agreement in principle. And, just recently, CARB discovered that Audi--of the VW Group--engineered an additional emissions-cheating device that turns off when wheels on affected vehicles turn more than 15 degrees (i.e., whenever folks drive).
The news keeps getting worse, and the poor public perception of Volkswagen is likely to linger for decades.
Were I VW, I'd slash prices on all models, including Audis, through February at the earliest. I'm sure many other affected owners would jump at the chance to purchase another VW with aggressive incentives. And anyone willing to stay with VW should get the same extended warranty being given to those who opt to keep their TDIs.
Price wise, it’s a great time to buy a VW or Audi. Want a 2017 GTI for $21K? You can get a two door at that price. How about a nicely-appointed Golf automatic for a shade under $20K? They’re available.
Wait—why am I selling VW vehicles all of a sudden? I’m not trying to convince you to buy VW, but there’s no denying the deals are there.
What else can other current owners do? I offered some advice in my previous post that still applies to those deciding whether to fix or sell their vehicles. If you're an eligible owner and have joined the settlement, the good news is that you have time to make a decision and line up another vehicle if necessary. Plenty of time, in fact; owners have until September 2018 to schedule a fix or a buyback. You can even cancel your buyback appointment and opt for the fix if you want. Don't rush through the process if you don't need to.
If you are getting a vehicle to replace your TDI, follow Todd and Paul's advice and test drive plenty of cars--even if you're already 'sold' on a specific one on paper. We drove seven cars and could have driven more.
If you decide to purchase another VW Group vehicle, I'd wager you can leverage the buyout to get a significant discount along with the incentives VW will already offer. And if the extended warranty isn't among those incentives, negotiate for one if you can.
And for those watching Dieselgate play out from afar, prepare for a long and interesting game. Whatever happens, Volkswagen will never be the same.