Audi development boss Peter Mertens said diesel is never coming back stateside and it’s all America’s fault in an interview with Car And Driver during last weekend’s Formula E race. Alright, then.
While Mertens only recently joined Audi, meaning he wasn’t involved in the previous corporate structure that lost billions of dollars globally after it got caught for illegally engineering emissions cheating on thousands of cars, he’s still sharing strong rhetoric on the topic.
When asked about whether the next generation of “clean” diesel technology currently being developed by Volkswagen Automotive Group could possibly be brought to the U.S., Mertens felt he was being backed into a corner. From Car And Driver:
“Now you’re putting me in a corner,” he said. “I would say no, and why is that so? I do not believe that Americans in their true belief and heart, their cultural way of driving, are suited to diesel. They aren’t. Everybody tried—we Europeans tried to give an answer maybe to a question that wasn’t asked.”
Sure, Europeans did try to offer the U.S. diesel vehicles, they (and other global automakers) just decided to initiate an illegal scheme of cheating emissions standards for almost a decade and got caught. That’s a key aspect of the dramatic shift away from diesel that Mertens seemed to avoid with his comments.
What’s crazy is that Mertens also borrowed the infamous phrase “alternative facts” to describe diesel’s European struggles—a term that itself doesn’t make any sense:
“Diesel can be clean with technology, but the problem is the image,” Mertens said. “People think that diesel is bad. It’s not helping us and it’s not helping the environment, speaking frankly. It would be great if we could come back to technical terms and realities instead of alternative facts when it comes to diesel, but it’s very difficult to fight them.”
It is America’s fault that diesel is dying—namely the group of American researchers at West Virginia University who first discovered Volkswagen’s emissions-cheating defeat device.
The real fact is that, as a direct result of VAG’s deception, we can no longer trust companies to provide realistic, environmentally friendly and perfectly legal diesel vehicles. VAG should have reconsidered the the “realities” of its diesel business model about a decade ago.
I’m sure VAG’s executives want to move away from the bitterness of dieselgate, but interviews blaming any group other than themselves for their predicament will get them nowhere.