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Marketplace Morning Report

The Volkswagen emissions scandal: customers weigh in

John Sepulvado Sep 29, 2015
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The head of Volkswagen’s U.S. operations, Michael Horn, says in a company video that the automaker betrayed the trust of dealers, employees, and its customers.

Now, customers like Sara Sheey are looking for the company to make things right. Sheehy lives in Haley, Idaho. She owns a 2012 red Volkswagen Jetta. She named the car Wolfgang. “And for short, I call him Wolfie,” she says.

Sara Sheehy with husband Michael Gordon.

Sara Sheehy with husband Michael Gordon. 

Sheehy says she didn’t just buy a diesel – she bought into the whole Volkswagen diesel story.

“I felt like I got away with something because we test drove Priuses and other hybrid cars that don’t have the power of a diesel Volkswagen,” Sheehy says. “I felt like I got the best of all worlds.

Diesel engines (called TDI’s) are generally a few thousand dollars more expensive than the same models with gas engines. Sheehy says she would like to be paid the difference by Volkswagen. But other customers have taken to Twitter and TDI fan club message boards railing against the company for the emission scandal deception. Some want to be fully reimbursed for their car, while others are filing lawsuits.

Diesel engine cars accounted for about 25 percent of the more than 360,000 autos Volkswagen sold in 2014. Many, like Sheehy, bought the diesels because they thought they were getting a powerful, clean, and economic engine.

Kelley Blue Book analyst Jack Nerad says diesel buyers are important to Volkswagen’s U.S. prospects. “Volkswagen diesel owners are among the most loyal owners on the planet,” says Nerad. “They absolutely love their vehicles. They typically buy one after another. I think this is a real slap in the face to them. I think at the same time, this is something that’s surmountable.”

Sheehy agrees, adding that she just wants the company to make things right.  

In the video, Horn says “owners do not need to take any action at this point of (sic) time. When we have a remedy in place, customers will be notified of the next steps immediately.” 

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