VW and Audi are returning their Green Car of the Year® awards in the wake of Volkswagen Group’s admission that it deliberately deceived government authorities about emissions from the Audi A3 TDI and VW Jetta TDI. Concurrently, Green Car Journal has rescinded these Green Car of the Year® awards honoring the 2009 VW Jetta TDI and 2010 Audi A3 TDI diesel models. This is the first time this has occurred in the award program’s decade-long history.
The magazine points out that these models were selected as Green Car of the Year® for compelling reasons including high fuel efficiency, reduced carbon emissions, a fun-to-drive nature, and the ability to meet 50 state emissions requirements with advanced diesel technology. However, as VW Group has now admitted, its on-board software programming intentionally caused in-lab emissions testing to read significantly lower nitrogen oxide emissions than these vehicles actually produced on the road. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board emissions certifications used in the process of determining award eligibility were thus incorrect, and have since been declared invalid by these government agencies. This means both models would have been ineligible to be finalists in their respective award years.
In returning its award, Audi of America President Scott Keogh advised the magazine, “Audi has won hundreds of races and thousands of awards throughout its history. But we only want to win fair and square. Therefore, in light of recent developments, we believe the only right thing to do is to return this important recognition of environmental stewardship. We are determined to compete – and hopefully win – Green Car of the Year® awards the proper way in future years.”
Green Car Journal points out that the award rescission and unfortunate news surrounding Volkswagen Group’s wrongdoing should not cast a negative light on advanced diesel technology in general. Many diesel models from a variety of auto manufacturers meet EPA and CARB emissions standards, bringing with them higher fuel efficiency, decreased petroleum use, and lower carbon emissions – all important environmental goals. Many are also approved for use with renewable biodiesel fuel.
The annual Green Car of the Year® award recognizes the vehicle model that best raises the bar in environmental performance. Efficiency, EPA/CARB certified emissions, and overall environmental improvement are considered along with market significance, value, and widespread availability to consumers. Recent Green Car of the Year® winners include the 2015 BMW i3; 2014 Honda Accord, including gas, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid variants; and 2013 Ford Fusion, including gas, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid models.