After VW scandal, new emissions tests may drive up diesel prices

Cost Savings From Better Fuel Economy May Go Up In Smoke

However much Volkswagen has to aside to address the flak from the company's ongoing diesel-emissions scandal, it could still be less expensive than the cost of making diesels realistically adhere to stricter emissions-testing mandates. New rules are likely to be put into place as a result of the revelations that as many as 11 million VW diesel vehicles were programmed to game the emissions-testing system by triggering artificially low emissions levels. There's a potential problem, though, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA).

Governments around the world are calling for more intense tests that would better simulate real-world driving conditions. Some of the mandates suggested by the European Union could make the process a costly one, however. And that would boost diesel-vehicle production costs to the point that the lower refueling costs via cheaper fuel and better fuel economy won't be able to justify the higher purchase price. According to Reuters, the ACEA issued a statement that said:

The automobile industry agrees with the need for emissions to more closely reflect real-world conditions, and has been calling for proposals for years. However, it is important to proceed in a way which allows manufacturers to plan and implement the necessary changes, without jeopardizing the role of diesel as one of the key pillars for fulfilling future CO2 targets."

Diesels have long been pushed in Europe because the lower carbon dioxide from the better fuel economy was thought to outweigh the additional nitrous oxides spit out by the oil burners. The push for "clean diesel" in recent years was supposed to reduce NOx emissions as well, but the VW story shows that this wasn't always the case. Rejiggered testing in Europe may start as early next year, and results may be available as soon as late 2017, but the whole point may become moot if automakers cut back on making diesel vehicles. The French government is already talking about eliminating diesel-vehicle subsidies in the wake of the scandal.

Still, while new-diesel vehicle prices may rise, used-diesel prices may be falling. US auction prices for VW diesel vehicles are already down about 13 percent. UK diesel-vehicle prices have also declined, just not as much.

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