Do you remember when the housing bubble burst, but you read stories about people making millions betting on losers? Well, it turns out you don’t need a fancypants cubicle and a $600 suit to make some money from a corporation’s billion-dollar screw-up.
A quick lesson in economics would dictate that the price of an item is directly related to the supply of that item and the forces of demand that the supply experiences. What this means for the hard-learnin’ jackmoes in the audience is that when something - say, a car - is more in demand - perhaps due to a particular feature - but the supply dwindles, people will pay a lot more for said car just because there’s less of it to go around and it’s the thing to get.
Traditionally, Volkswagen’s diesels, also known as their TDI line, have been at the forefront of putting economical, makes-sense diesel engines into economical, makes-sense cars. They don’t roll coal from three foot tall smokestacks at stoplights like a dually bro-dozer, and they handle remarkably like a car, because they’re in essence, regular-ass cars.
Even though TDIs cost more to manufacture and buy, they’re known to return stellar fuel economy and keep values better than nearly any other car, regardless of make or model - no small feat when every single new car out would gladly make it to 150,000 miles without breaking a sweat.
For example, take a look at a three year old used Jetta TDI, then compare it to a three year old gasoline-powered Jetta - for cars with around the same mileage and specs, you have a difference in price of more than $4,000.
Having said that, VW’s epic diesel clusterfuck is a godsend to anyone buying a car because it’ll open up opportunities that were never available before to regular buyers and here’s why: people are fickle to a fault and bad PR is a death sentence for a car manufacturer because automobiles, unless you’re a Qatari sheik, are not impulse buys.
The negative press the company is receiving, coupled with its rapidly declining stock price and the fact that the EPA may hinder the sale of all new TDIs for up to a year will leave a sour taste in the mouths of prospective diesel buyers. That’s why initially, prices of newer TDIs that would possibly be affected by any potential recall would slump and you’ll soon be able to find that diesel family hauler you’ve always wanted for a price that’s too good to pass up, but this will not last.
With trends of diesel-powered car ownership on the up, the beacon of hope lies in the notion that although Volkswagen will be affected, other manufacturers with diesel offerings like BMW, won’t be. The press from this story will put diesel cars into mainstream news coverage, if only for a short while and as we all know, with increased exposure comes increased curiosity, and with increased curiosity comes sales. All great things if you’re already a TDI owner.
As time goes by and the attention deficient public forgets about this sordid mess, they’ll realize that the cars affected weren’t actually any worse and they represent quite a good value, so prices will appreciate sharply, helped by the lack of new cars to fill the void.
Just think about it like this - If the government outlawed the making of new Dodge Charger Hellcats because of some technicality that says no new sedan can have over 700 horsepower, the existing Hellcats would be hoarded prized possessions or sold for large premiums over current market prices, simply because the demand for the car increased and supply stopped in its tracks. The best time to buy a Hellcat would’ve been two months ago, but the next best time would be now.
Just replace Hellcat with TDI and it’s the same basic premise.
If you’re in the market for a fantastic daily driver, you’d do a lot worse than a TDI from Volkswagen. If you act quickly you could pick one up and sell it in a few year for the original purchase price, or better yet, get paid to put miles on a car. At the very least, you’ll get a great deal on a car that’ll be more dependable, unique, and torquey than anything else the execs at VAG can offer their increasingly belligerent shareholders.
You can start your search here and research how much (or how little) these cars cost - or don’t, but I’d much rather say “you’re welcome” in a year than “I told you so.”
Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes and makes videos about buying and selling cool cars on the internet. He owns the world’s cheapest Mercedes S-Class, a graffiti-bombed Lexus, and he’s the only Jalopnik author that has never driven a Miata. He also has a real name that he didn’t feel was journalist-y enough so he used a pen name and this was the best he could do.