Thursday, September 22, 2016

Part 1 - How Volkswagen is Helping us Repay the Planet for Its Sins

This is the first in a 5-part series about how buying a diesel vehicle in 2013 resulted in an electric car and renewable solar panels on our house in 2016. 

If you'd like to read all the parts of this series, you can see them here.
Part 1 - How Volkswagen is Helping us Repay the Planet for Its Sins
Part 2 - Our Search for a Cleaner Car
Part 3 - Buying a Used 2016 Chevrolet Volt
Part 4 - A Lesson on Creating Clean Energy at Home
Part 5 - Making the Decision to Add Solar to our Urban Roof

2013 was a big year for me. Jay and I bought our first home together. I got a new hip. I turned 42, which for Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fans IS significant). And after a year and a half of research, more than a dozen test drives and lots of talking with people, Jay and I bought a Volkswagen Golf TDI. It's a diesel, EPA 40 mpg and on long trips we get close to 42-43. The big deal about this car is that VW promoted this as a "clean diesel" that got good MPG, very nice performance and clean emissions, something that hadn't been available in a consumer vehicle.
I bought a new 2013 VW Golf TDI thinking I'd keep it for20 years. 
Now we're figuring out what to replace it with.

Then last September the truth came out - VW lied. They had rigged the software in their engines to fib about the emissions when the car was being tested, but then programmed to burn inefficiently when running, releasing 40 times the nitrous oxide than the EPA allows. Not 4 times, not 10 times, 40 times. They said they were sorry. They sent us a $500 Visa gift card for Christmas. And last month, they offered to buy the car back. Since our vehicle is relatively new (a 2013) and only has 40,000 miles, we got a fair buyback offer and we took it.

Sometime this November, at the same VW dealership where we bought the car, we'll sell it back to them. They'll send a check to pay off the loan to the bank and give us a check for the difference. And then, we'll have a decision to make. Buy another car? Keep the windfall? 


We decided to make lemonade, a lot of lemonade, out of this literal lemon. I'll let you know how tasty it is in another blog entry.