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Volkswagen Diesel Lawsuits Ignore the Bigger Picture

We’ve never seen anything like Volkswagen’s massive deception on NOx emissions. Automobile manufacturers can do some questionable things, but this ranks among the most puzzling. It’s a huge slap in the face for diesel advocates. The current buzz indicates that VW will “fix” the effected TDI diesel-powered vehicles that exceed federal emissions standards. Exactly how this will play out, remains to be seen. 

Meanwhile, legal firms are circling Volkswagen like vultures. There are a number of lawsuits in the works, aiming to score a settlement with Volkswagen. Is this really about TDI owners getting restitution or is it simply a big payday for the attorneys? The fix will surely lower performance and fuel efficiency. How much can Jetta, Golf, and Passat owners expect to recieve? If I owned one of these vehicles, I wouldn’t want it “fixed” … I’d want to swap it for a brand new version that delivered the performance and MPGs that I was promised.

With the spotlight on Volkswagen, the media is ignoring the larger issue. If we are serious about reducing emissions, whether it’s particulates, NOx, carbon, or other pollutants, we must move past our addiction to petroleum. The biggest problem isn’t diesel engines. It’s the fuel.

Second Generation Renewable Diesel Fuel produces less pollution and can be produced in any country from waste products. It runs in every diesel engine and outperforms petroleum-based diesel. California-based Propel sells a renewable blend they market as DieselHPR which is sourced from Neste (NEXBTL). This is not conventional biodiesel, but it is made from the same feedstocks. You won’t hear about it on the evening news.

Using NEXBTL renewable diesel produced from 100% renewable raw materials can achieve up to 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over its lifecycle compared to fossil diesel. In addition, it can reduce levels of local emissions that have a negative impact on air quality. Thanks to the positive contribution to improving urban air quality, it’s an excellent alternative for powering city buses, for example.

Scientific studies and field trials have shown that using 100% NEXBTL renewable diesel reduces vehicle emissions significantly compared to conventional sulfur-free diesel.

  • fine particulates are 33% lower, and the number of particulates is also smaller
  • nitrogen oxides (NOx) are 9% lower
  • hydrocarbons (HC) are 30% lower
  • carbon monoxide (CO) is 24% lower
  • polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are also reduced

With the currently low price for crude oil and consequently, on finished fuel, some folks may propose that we no longer need to pursue renewable fuels. But that can’t be further from the truth. The petroleum industry has had a lock on transportation fuels for far too long. We don’t need to make lemonade from these lemons, we need to make biofuel.

Volkswagen’s settlement with the US government should include a whopping sum of money to help underwrite construction of renewable diesel production facilities, specifically in states where diesel prices are high. The government’s recent settlement with Hyundai and Kia regarding their fuel efficiency overstatement provides precedence.

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