As we speak, some likely frustrated engineering team in Germany is deciding the best way to fix the thousands and thousands of emissions-cheating diesel engines. There’s already fixes in place to meet the Euro standards, and the US will likely require much more. But there’s one simple little fix all solutions should include: a badge.
A badge? Generally and despite popular opinion, badges don’t do all that much for a car’s performance. You can stick as many M badges as you want on your 1959 BMW Isetta, but it’s not going to go any faster. Badges just don’t have the massive horsepower-adding ability of, say, a stripe.
But badges do have power of other sorts, both good and bad. If you don’t believe me, try selling a VW with a TDI badge on its trunk today. The truth is, people — including non-gearheads — do see badges, and do make assumptions based on them.
At this moment, the incredibly bad publicity Volkswagen has generated from this whole disheartening scandal has, effectively, tainted their name, and especially the cars they made that are badged as TDI.
The general public likely doesn’t know what those letters mean. If they do, they likely don’t know what that Turbo is Injecting into what, Directly or otherwise. They don’t care. But they do know that those three letters are related to something bad. Something involving lies and something bad for the environment.
This is resulting in innocent TDI owners, who were just trying to buy a good, efficient car, receiving hateful, idiotic notes on their cars, dirty looks, unwanted judgements, and, importantly, a car with a plummeting resale value. These cars will be fixed, if all goes according to plan. The fixes will likely come at a cost of efficiency and performance, but the cars will be emissions-compliant.
The problem is, the general public won’t necessarily be aware that a given TDI has been fixed. If they don’t own a VW, they may not even know about the program to fix the cars. But they will likely remember all of the bad press and publicity.
So, to support their customers, VW needs to append an obvious and clear badge to every fixed TDI so their owners can have something easy and tangible to point to to get meddlesome, self-righteous, possibly unhinged dipshits off their collective asses. The badge will also help when it comes to selling their cars, if they choose to, and will be a good visual reminder to everyone that actions have consequences, but redemption is possible.
Sure, there will likely be counterfeit badges, but I think that’s just part of the cost of doing business. Besides, lying’s what got VW into this mess, so a little taste of their own medicine may not be the worst thing in the world. The fix will be free to the owner, so I suspect most will just opt to do it the right (and free) way, anyway.
As for what the badge should actually be, I’m not sure. I think it needs to be obvious and easily understandable, but not, you know, too ugly. Maybe it needs to be green, to play up VW’s government-forced re-commitment to clean air? And it needs to get the concept of “fixed” across, as well.
A green band-aid? A green wrench? A little panel that just says FIXED? Maybe FIXED, SORRY ABOUT THAT?
I’ll leave that to VW’s design team. But I actually do think that some sort of visual indicator on the car that the fixes were done is important. TDI owners have had to put up with a lot of bullshit since this started, and any way of nipping that in the bud would be great. An obvious badge could head off judgement and mirror-rehearsed speeches before they start.
It’s easy, it’s cheap, it’ll make TDI owners feel a little better. Do it, VW.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.