For days now, each time Frank Rodrigues has turned on his 2014 VW Jetta he’s been hit with a sense of guilt and embarrassment.
“I’m ashamed” the 58-year-old Markham, Ont. resident said. “It’s the feeling you get every time you turn on your car, because you know you are polluting more than others.”
“It’s supposed to be ‘clean’ diesel,” Rodrigues said.
Thousands – and more likely tens of thousands – of Volkswagen owners in Canada are in an uncomfortable bind thanks to the auto company that made their vehicle, and there’s no clear ending in sight yet.
There’s been only minimal communication from Volkswagen Canada Inc. to car owners – and none to dealerships, some sales associates say — about how the German manufacturer plans to fix vehicles that likely violate multiple emissions laws in North America.
The fix will be required in the wake of stunning revelations last week that VW for years has rigged its vaunted 2.0-litre TDI “clean” diesel engines to fool emissions tests.
A spokesperson told Global News on Monday the Canadian arm is committed to resolving the matter in a “timely fashion.”
The car company issued a “stop sale” order for “all vehicles affected by this issue,” Thomas Tetzlaff, a spokesperson for VW Canada, said.
A stop-sale order was issued in the United States as well after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said as many as 500,000 VW diesel cars there contained technology designed to thwart emission tests.
The figure ballooned to 11 million vehicles overnight after Volkswagen released its own estimate on how many cars have been sold worldwide between 2009 and this year that contained the pollution-masking software.
Still for sale
As of Tuesday morning, Canadian car dealerships continued to sell affected models. Sales associates said they had not heard from dealer owners, or VW Canada directly.
Used car dealerships were selling dozens of 2.0L TDI Volkswagen models on the autotrader.ca website and others Tuesday.
“The car is still for sale,” Dan Chadwick, a salesman, said about a 2013 Golf his dealership, Acura on Brent in Burlington, Ont., was offering for $20,500. Asked if there had been any communication to cease selling diesel VW models, Chadwick said: “No, nothing.”
“If we retailed a lot more of them, I’m sure there would be some kind of repercussion from it. But nothing so far,” the sales associate said.
The dealership sells about 20 to 25 Volkswagen models a year, Chadwick estimated. “And about half of them would be diesel.”
George Loney has driven a Volkswagen since he worked for the car company in Canada in the 1960s.
Loney, an admitted “car guy,” made the switch to TDI engines when they were introduced in North American VW models in the late 2000s, the technology hailed as a “clean” solution that gave drivers the performance they were after without the heightened level of pollution diesels historically burn off.
“There was no penalty for driving a diesel,” Loney, 68, who lives in Fergus, Ont., said. “The power is good, it drives on the highway like a dream and the fact that you’re sipping fuel is a bonus.”
“That motor essentially made diesel motors desirable and accessible” in North America, he said. “So in some ways I have to say I feel cheated.”
Loney wants to hear from the president of Volkswagen Canada Inc. about how to bring his 2013 Golf into compliance with emissions laws, if the vehicle is found to be in violation of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
Volkswagen said Tuesday it has set aside $9.6 billion to fund recall efforts as well as fight what’s likely to be numerous court challenges by owners and dealerships now at risk of losing business. Still, Loney says he’s committed to Volkswagen despite the current controversy.
“It’s not going to change my attitude toward Volkswagen, but I’m disappointed,” he said.
Rodrigues expressed a similar sentiment.
WATCH: Volkswagen AG faces billions of dollars in fines and possible criminal penalties after admitted it rigged its vehicles to pass emissions testing. As Sean O’Shea reports, the company’s admissions have consumers wondering about the value of their vehicles.