Emissions Scandal Is Hurting VW Owners Trying To Resell As resale prices drop, the emissions cheating scandal costs customers who want to sell their Volkswagen diesels. "I think it's a tainted product now," says analyst Dave Galvin.
NPR logo

Emissions Scandal Is Hurting VW Owners Trying To Resell

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/450238773/451858238" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Emissions Scandal Is Hurting VW Owners Trying To Resell

Emissions Scandal Is Hurting VW Owners Trying To Resell

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/450238773/451858238" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Volkswagen has traveled a hard road since it admitted to cheating on U.S. emissions tests. The company's stock value fell. It faces billions of dollars in fines, litigation and other costs. And then there's the cost to VW drivers. From member station WSHU, Charles Lane reports.

CHARLES LANE, BYLINE: Just before the EPA announced VW tricked emissions inspectors, Kim Johnson began trying to sell her 2014 Jetta.

KIM JOHNSON: It's got four doors. It's got heated seats. It is great on gas currently.

LANE: Johnson says the car is pretty peppy, too.

JOHNSON: It is on the highway and everything. I have a lot of fun.

LANE: For years, VW's competitors were flummoxed. How can a car have this much performance, good gas mileage and pass inspections? Turns out the car has software designed to fool anyone who tests the emissions.

JOHNSON: Cheated. Cheated, you know? I mean, we're a small business owner. If we did that to our clients, we wouldn't be in business.

LANE: Johnson sells custom cabinets in Connecticut. Since she posted her Jetta on cargurus.com, no one has yet expressed any interest in buying it. According to the site, Johnson isn't the only one. As fewer people search for VWs affected by the scandal, prices on the site have fallen by 4.5 percent. Other sites report similar or greater cuts. Dave Galvin is director of data analytics at cargurus.

DAVE GALVIN: Because I think it's a tainted product now. Consumers don't know what the long-term value of the cars they're buying will be or what kind of work will be needed to be done to make them pass inspections.

LANE: Galvin says the depressed prices go beyond just the cars facing recall. It affects all Volkswagens. Overall, VWs shoppers on the site dropped 6 percent since the crisis began.

JAMIE VONDRUSKA: It's a really unfortunate thing.

LANE: Jamie Vondruska runs VWvortex, a website for the Volkswagen enthusiast. He says 10 years ago, the company staked its image to being environmentally friendly. The company planted a forest and built the first green certified car factory.

VONDRUSKA: Having been someone who's followed the brand for a long time fan and a fan of the brand for a very long time and owned a lot of their cars, it's hard to imagine how this kind of thing can happen.

LANE: Vondruska says an unforeseen victim in all this is diesel. VW had already announced it was going to eventually phase out its diesel cars in favor of electric.

VONDRUSKA: This crisis is probably going to accelerate that a little bit. Diesel as a whole, you know, the over-the-road-trucks in some eyes have struggled to meet the emissions. It's an uphill battle for everyone involved in selling diesel products.

LANE: But Vondruska advises current VW owners to hang tight because the company will eventually make a comeback, he says. Readers on his site are actually calling the current price drop a buying opportunity. But for Kim Johnson, still trying to sell her Jetta, she doesn't see it that way. The value of her car has dropped more than 4 percent.

JOHNSON: Because I don't want to be out of pocket another, you know, thousand or $1,500. It would be nice if VW bought all their cars back. But that's not going to happen.

LANE: Company executives say a buyback is unlikely. They say right now they're focused on meeting EPA regulations. But the company is offering current owners a $2000 loyalty bonus for another VW. For NPR News, I'm Charles Lane.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.