The rolling scandal at Volkswagen — after the automaker rigged emissions tests to allow a diesel engine to pass emissions tests — on Wednesday led to the company’s CEO to resign and has left the prospect of an expensive recall looming.
But in one Texas showroom, the effect was much more immediate — even for those vehicles that are unaffected by the problem.
“We sold 13 new cars on Saturday and one yesterday,” Lance Willis, general manager of Volkswagen of The Woodlands, in Woodlands, Texas, told NBC News Wednesday. “That’s a big drop.”
Volkswagen has admitted that rigged U.S. emissions tests to make it look as if its diesel-powered cars were emitting fewer nitrogen oxides, which can contribute to respiratory illness.
American regulators have identified some 482,000 cars in the U.S. that are involved. The company said 11 million vehicles worldwide were fitted with the cheating software.
Company CEO Martin Winterkorn denied any wrongdoing but resigned Wednesday. Meanwhile Volkswagen has set aside $7.2 billion to cover the anticipated costs of resolving the issue, and its stock has plunged.
The issue involves four-cylinder engines Volkswagen or Audi cars from 2009 to 2015, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The company has ordered those models not be sold.
Diesels are especially popular in California and Texas. Fourteen percent of the affected VW cars are owned by Californians and 7 percent are owned by Texans, according to Kelley Blue Book.
“We definitely feel betrayed,” Volkswagen of Oakland sales manager Chris Murphy told Reuters. Like at the Woodlands dealership, Volkswagen models like the Golf Sportswagen have been barred from being sold.
Some Volkswagen diesel enthusiasts were left wondering whether whatever fixes the company proposes could cause the vehicles to lose performance, and that the scandal could tank cars’ resale value.
“There is a lot of angst and wild guessing as no one really knows what is going to happen,” said Fred Voglmaier, whose “TDI Club” forum saw over 2,000 posts on the topic since Friday. “Many feel cheated by Volkswagen.”
The vehicles were touted as “green diesel.”
Nathan Silver of Anaheim, California, bought his 2011 Jetta Sportswagen because of its longevity, not environmental impact.
“I’m not pleased by it, no. It doesn’t encourage me to buy another Volkswagen,” Silver, 47, said Wednesday. “I’m going to stick with it,” he said. “I’m not happy with Volkswagen, but it’s the lot that I chose, I suppose.”