The Mushroom Cloud Expands

Well, there’s good and bad news wafting upward from the immolation of Volkswagen over its now-public end-running of the EPA’s preposterously over-strict emissions rigmarole (more about that here and – audio clip – here).

First, the good news:

* The affected vehicles actually run betterthan they would have, had VW not “recalibrated” the software that runs the computer that controls the operation of the engines in these vehicles.

They get higher mileage – and give better performance.

The last time something like this happened – that I know about – was back in 1973, when GM’s Pontiac division (RIP) tried to slip the high-performance SD-455 V8 (destined for the Trans-Am) under the EPA’s radar by including this de-tuned race engine within the already-approved “family” of ordinary 455 V8s, even though the SD shared almost no parts (in particular, its high-performance camshaft) with ordinary, run-of-the-mill 455s. EPA found out – and Pontiac got “busted.” But back then, people cheered Pontiac.

And boo’d the EPA.

* You will probably be able to score a sweet deal on a new diesel-powered VW. As the mushroom cloud expands, the fallout will rain on VW dealerships all across the country. Cars that commanded full MSRP – plus some – just a week ago will be discounted heavily in the very near future, if this disaster is not contained.

Keep in mind, the vehicles are in no way “bad” vehicles (unlike, say, the epically awful GM diesels of the early 1980s) but the negative publicity will create that impression and the cars stand a very good chance of becoming pariahs. Which will benefit people smart enough to see past the know-nothing hysterics and pick one up at a fire sale price.

* The “scandal” may expose the lunacy of current federal regulations – which have gone from reasonable to ridiculous.

The media is not explaining to people that the emissions in question amount to fractions of a percent of the total exhaust volume; nor that these cars meet very strict (just not insane) European standards. Perhaps people will begin to comprehend that a fractional difference in emissions output is not that big a deal – especially when the “affected” vehicle actually uses less fuel – which (think about it) means it produces a lesser volume of total exhaust gasses.

Perhaps people will ask why it is that American buyers are denied access to 60 MPG diesel cars that are commonly available in western Europe, where the air seems to be quite breathable and people are not walking around wearing surgical masks or hooked up to oxygen tanks… .

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