Asked about the Volkswagen diesel-emission debacle, National Automobile Dealers Assn. Chairman Bill Fox offers three anecdotes that reflect how it affects various people.
He tells of an Indiana VW dealer who typically sells 30 VWs a week. “Last week he sold one,” Fox says, speaking after a guest appearance for an upcoming episode of the TV show “Autoline.”
The second story involves a man Fox knows from serving on the Board of Regents at Georgetown University in Washington. The man owns a diesel-powered VW and long-distance commutes in it between Washington and Syracuse, NY, a distance of 374 miles (602 km).
“He’s put 120,000 miles (193,120 km) on the car, and loves it,” Fox says. But the man has no intention of participating in an impending recall that would “fix” VW diesels to reduce their tailpipe emissions.
VW is in a jam for admittedly rigging software so that its diesel engines emitted much fewer harmful gases in testing than in real-world driving.
Recall work would adjust engines to reduce emissions. But horsepower and fuel economy would drop as a result.
“The guy has no intention of taking his VW in for work that would hurt the car’s performance and mileage,” Fox says of the road warrior.
Yet the NADA chief says other VW owners who “have bought into the clean-diesel eco movement” probably will subject their cars to changes that, despite the downside, will lower emissions.
Then Fox tells of a dealer who sold a diesel-powered VW car to a customer who subsequently ran into financial problems. He owes much more than the car is worth. He sees the diesel scandal as an opportunity to remedy things: He’s insisting the dealership take his car back.
“It puts the dealer in a tight spot,” Fox says.
Fox doesn’t own a VW franchise, but he does sell Chryslers. After UAW union members rejected a proposed Fiat Chrysler contract last week, there’s now looming strike talk.
Asked if such a production stoppage would cause inventory shortages, Fox says, “I’ve been a Chrysler dealer since 1981, and I’ve always had plenty of inventory. An inventory shortage wouldn’t be a problem in the short-term.”