2009 Jetta TDI - Volkwagen - Dallas
The Clean Diesel Jetta
'95 993 Cabriolet
Passionate About German Cars
I am passionate about German cars. I own a 2000 E320 Estate (station wagon), a 1995 Porsche 911 Cabriolet (993), and a 1995 BMW 525i 5spd (E34). I am the original owner of the E34, bought the 993 a few years old, and the same with the E class.
Thus, picking up my much anticipated 2009 Jetta TDI from Boardwalk Volkwagen in Dallas, TX this past week was a milestone for me. Since these cars are just arriving to the US market, I thought I'd share my experience and explain why I decided to buy a new car and why it was a 2009 Volkwagen Jetta TDI?
Why Buy A New Car?
My BMW is in pristine condition having won Bavarian Auto's E34 2005 photo contest. Yet, I have driven it hard and the main bearing on the 5 spd manual transmission finally gave out. After I calculated the cost of the repair coupled with its fuel efficiency, I realized it was time to retire it as a daily driver.
- Popular Mechanics Coverage of 2009 Jetta TDI
Popular Mechanics gives a great review of the 2009 Jetta TDI.
What Car Should I Buy?
In 2003, while spending time in Europe on business, I was exposed to the new generation of automotive diesel engines based on Common Rail Diesel technology. My experience with these engines were that they were full of torque and very fuel efficient. I decided back then that a common rail diesel based engine would power my next car. However, as of the beginning of this year, not a single manufacturer was offering a manual transmission diesel sports sedan in the U.S. market. In August of 2008 this changed as Volkswagen delivered the 2009 Jetta TDI. Volkwagen's entry into the US market with a true clean diesel engine is significant.
- Bluetec Coverage by Popular Mechanics
The BluTec exhaust emissions treatment system recently won a Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award as one of the top American innovations of the year, and this announcement means we’ll get clean diesel
What is the Story With Clean Diesel?
During both the Clinton and Bush administrations, progress was made to finally converting all diesel sold in this country to fuels that were 97% sulfur free. As could be imagined, both the trucking and the petroleum refining industries put up considerably resistance. As a result, the emissions laws on diesel engines changed significantly in the United States to rival even the strict European standards. In order to combine research efforts and produce diesel engines that would pass the US standards, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen entered into cooperative called BlueTec. Though Mercedes-Benz entered the market with the the first BlueTec branded automobile this past year, Volkswagen introduced the first diesel car in the United States that met the rigorous demands of all 50 states emission requirements without the need for exhaust additives (the Benz requires an exhaust additive). Ironically, Volkswagen pulled out of the BlueTec cooperative this past year as they did not want the branding to confuse consumers with Mercedes-Benz efforts.
History Behind Common Rail Desiel
The Common Rail Deisel injection system is the production of Robert Bosch GmbH who manufacturers components for many of the worlds top auto makers. Having introduced the technology in 1997, the Common Rail Injection system is in it's 4th or 5th generation today. To read more about this technology, you can visit an article from Swedspeed.Com.
First, I have to hand it to Jim Duke and the crew at Boardwalk Volkwagen in Dallas, TX. They got me on the waiting list for a Jetta TDI without pressure or dealer premiums. As I pulled off the lot in my new 6 speed manual transmission TDi, I had to do some serious adjusting as these small engines develop so much torque at low RPMs that you really have to adjust your shifting habits and overall driving style. Furthermore, when engaging cruise control at 70 mph, the engine turns 2K rpms in 6th gear. As the car travels on stretches of the highway with inclines, you never once hear the motor strain or try to accelerate to keep up. It is just constant cruising which makes for a nice ride. Last, with my 14 year old stick shifts, I've never had the luxury of a hydrolic clutch. Driving this car is as smooth as it gets.
Unfortunately, the day I picked up my car, it was raining. Thus, I decided to take it easy on the way home and reserve getting the car out on the highway for the following day. I found myself driving to multiple meetings the next day and finally ended up on the North Dallas Tollway. It really shocked me to look at the engine only turning 3,000 RPMs but the speedometer tacked at 90 MPH! Moreover, 65 miles into my day and the fuel gauge was still above the Full marker!
The most amazing discovery about this car is that the exhaust is not "cleaner" it is simply "clean". There is nothing in the emissions from this car that would even hint at it being a diesel. The exhause is clear and no odor. It more resembles a Zamboni's exhaust than an automobile.
What is Wrong with Volkswagen's US Marketing?
I am not very impressed with Volkwagen of America, Inc. and their North American marketing efforts. Lets start with the tactical.
The US Internal Revenue Service awareded 2009 Jetta TDI with eligibility for a tax credit under the Advanced Lean Burn Technology Motor Vehicle income tax credit. Why was this information not available on the Internet when I Googled the Jetta TDI? Why did I have to find out from a blogger? Why the dealership not have huge banners saying "Tax Refund"? In a time when the American consumer is very cost concious, you would think Volkswagen of America would dropping this message from airplanes. Instead, they've probably burried in some PDF on their Flash driven website to where Google can't find it.
More strategically, I am suprised that Volkwagen of America would let the Jetta TDI's market be defined for them versus defining their own market. Why would they let a fun and sporty sedan like the Jetta get entangled in comparison with the hybrid models of their competitors. Just because a car gets great fuel efficiency, there is no need dilute its potential by just marketing it as that. This would be like marketing avocados as "Diet Avocados". Why? I love guacamole and other avocado based recipes because they are awesome. It is an added bonus that they also happen to be healthy.
If that weren't bad enough, other Jetta TDI marketing efforts make this flat out perplexing. As discovered in another automotive blog, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is bringing TDI clean diesel technology to North American in a Jetta TDI Cup series sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Pro Racing Inc. This is great. The question is why they would make this investment and not synchronize their product line to maximize profits and give VW drivers what they really want--sporty cars. Instead, the Jetta TDIs hitting the dealerships come branded with the "goody-goody" option of "The Loyalty Package" which sets you up with 16 inch rims and a CD changer. Where are the spoilers, ground effects, sport bumper, and 18" rims that go hand in hand with the Jetta TDI Cup branding? Does one deparment inside of Volkswagen of America, Inc. talk to another?
To be fair, maybe there are stipulations with the IRS tax credits as to how a car is configured and marketed. I'm not going to take the time to read the tax code for this article but if I am being unfair to VW marketing, post a comment.
I will take the time to point you to a clip of these cars on the track!
Jetta TDI Cup Race
I am very happy with my first new car in 14 years. The innovation towards conservation and environmental friendliness is impressive. This coupled with the dealership experience has made me a happy customer. I hope that Volkswagen is able to change the minds of the American consumer with this car and I strongly encourage them to more clearly plot out their marketing around clean TDI in the US.