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It’s been nearly four years since the EPA cited Volkswagen for failure to comply with Clean Air Act regulations for some of its diesel engine vehicles.
The scandal broke in 2015 because software installed on some Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche TDI diesel models allowed them to cheat on emissions testing. In the immediate aftermath, Volkswagen saw about a 25% drop in market capitalization and a decline in vehicle sales, according to data from Statista.
The resulting negative publicity and a $14.7 billion settlement briefly slowed global sales of the Volkswagen and Audi brands, but not in Utah. On a per-capita basis, Beehive state residents show more loyalty to Volkswagen than any other state.
In fact, it’s easy to make the case that the scandal that enveloped the world’s biggest automaker proved beneficial to Volkswagen customers in Utah.
Here are some things to know about the diesel scandal and how Utah customers can take advantage.
The resulting U.S. Department of Justice settlement allows TDI owners who purchased their cars before Sept.16, 2015, to sell their cars back to Volkswagen for between $12,500 and $44,000, depending on the model, age, trim, and region, explains an article in Car and Driver. Those with leases for affected TDI models receive a cash value between $2,600 and $4,900.
Owners had the option of having their vehicles fixed for free. In those cases, they also received a cash amount of $5,100 to $10,000 to compensate for diminished resale value.
The doctored emissions software affected only diesel vehicles. But in an effort to win back customers, Volkswagen dealers offered significant price breaks on gas and electric models as well. The discounts extend to leases. And customers in the market for used vehicles are benefitting from the lower valuations.
New and improved models
An article in carbuzz.com notes a focus on SUVs and electric vehicles are boosting sales and breathing new life into the brand.
In 2018 Volkswagen introduced the Atlas, a mid-size SUV with third-row seating popular with Utah families. Car and Driver says, “Atlas provides family-friendly passenger and cargo space without so much as a hint of a mom-mobile image. ...A lengthy, transferable warranty and pricing that undercuts many of the segment's most popular choices are all additional arrows in the Atlas's quiver.”
And in the U.S., Tiguan SUV sales jumped from 21,023 in 2017 to 89,476 in 2018 — a year-over-year increase of 326%, according to Car Sales Statistics.
Volkswagen is betting big on electric vehicles with a scheduled 2020 U.S. release of a compact crossover and a retro-inspired van in 2022. In May the company announced a $1.1 billion investment into a battery factory in Europe to provide the power sources for its fleet of electric models.
An upgraded warranty
In another bid to regain the trust of its customers, Volkswagen currently offers the best bumper-to-bumper warranty in the business. US News reports that Volkswagen is the only manufacturer to offer a six-year, 72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper transferable warranty on all new models, starting with the 2018 model year.
Great quality and engineering
According to Consumer Reports, Volkswagens are “solid, responsive, and fun-to-drive cars, with a more premium feel than their competitors.” The high quality of German engineering is long-established. “German engineering companies are famous for their incredible products,” reports Engineering Daily. “They have superior quality and display a skilled craftsmanship that cannot be matched anywhere in the world.”
Volkswagen's popularity is intact
Utah car buyers are not alone in their admiration for Volkswagen. In 2016, despite the prior year’s diesel scandal, Volkswagen group sales rose 3.8% to a record 10.3 million cars and have only increased since.
In 2017, sales reached 10.7 million, according to Automotive News Europe. A New York Times article about the rebound notes the company experienced a year-over-year sales increase for 11 months in 2017 and the 9.4% annual sales increase was more than any other non-luxury auto brand. The 2017 number was the most of any car manufacturer in the world, easily surpassing Toyota for the top spot.
In Salt Lake City, Strong Volkswagen recently earned a J.D. Power Dealer of Excellence Award. The organization reports that car buying is often difficult and frustrating and the award recognizes dealers willing to go the extra mile. "When you choose to visit a J.D. Power Dealer of Excellence, you can be confident the sales team will be just as committed to providing an exceptional customer experience as they are to selling a vehicle," J.D. Power states.
The dealership also earned the Volkswagen Wolfsburg Crest Club Award given to dealers that meet exemplary benchmarks in overall excellence for operating standards, new vehicle sales, certified pre-owned sales, parts purchases, pre- and post-sale customer satisfaction indexes, financial statement submission and Volkswagen Academy employee certification.
Strong Volkswagen is the only dealer to ever capture both honors and is committed to customer service and satisfaction. The dealership has a VIP program that includes things like lifetime car washes, paint touch-up, loaner cars, dent and glass repair and a lifetime warranty. The Strong Auto Group is also the longest continuous-running import auto business in Utah.