Getting a Restricted California TDI
*Editors Note: As of fall 2000 some TDI are once again
available as 2001 models in California. It sounds like only a few will be
sold directly in California do to fleet emissions, or something like that.
Therefore this scenario isn't currently required in getting a TDI in California.
This was however the case during much of 2000.
I thought I had purchased a red, automatic, TDI New Beetle in July
when I went on vacation, and that it would be ready for delivery after my vacation.
Returning home in early August, I read an e-mail from my dealer which told me
that VW of America would no longer allow him to sell any TDI in California.
He explained that he could only sell the stock on hand. Later, he tried to dealer
trade, but could not find the car I wanted. I was given vague, nonspecific reasons
why dealers were not allowed to sell these cars in California.
My dealer eventually told me that I was going to have to go out of state to
purchase a TDI New Beetle.
I called dealers in several states and was told outrageous stories
about the car I wanted. One salesman told me that VW could not get a red
paint that would stick on the cars, so I would have to buy one of the other
colors he had in stock. A dealer in Utah told me he was related
to the VW representative for all the Western U.S., and that this VW rep said
there were no red automatic TDI
New Beetles in America. There were other stories just as flaky,
all aimed at forcing me to purchase their stock on hand. Each of these
outlandish stories just motivated me to find the car I wanted.
I first tried dealers in Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico,
but they were either unwilling to locate a red, auto, TDI New Beetle, or they
became afraid to sell to owners in California. Some even read me the letter
VW of America had sent them, warning them to not sell to us. It bothered
me that this European company would intimidate these businesses and interfere
with our free market in the U.S.
Fortunately, I have addresses in Michigan, Texas, Oklahoma and Florida that
I can use for registration purposes, so I began contacting dealers in those
states. I called several dealers in each state, but found more outlandish stories,
all ending with the suggestion that I should purchase a car they had in stock.
I discovered that most were unwilling to find the car I needed, or
didn't care about the sale.
Finally, I called Momentum VW/Audi in Houston, Texas and found General Sales
Manager Cris Garner to be of great help. Like all the other dealers, he did
not have the specific car I wanted, but he asked me to give him a few minutes
to check what was on the dock at the port of Houston, some 12 miles from his
dealership. He found the car I wanted and was able to direct it to his
dealership to sell to me. I arranged all the money issues by phone, then found
a cheap flight on the Internet, and just as Mr. Garner had promised, there was
a beautiful red, automatic TDI New Beetle at his dealership with my name on
After the purchase, I took three days to drive this new car back to California,
following the break-in procedures I have read here at Fred's forum. This was
great fun for me, waving at each VW dealership I passed in those other states.
I had high expectations, after reading all the glowing comments of other owners.
Even with all that knowledge, this car still performs better than I had
expected. One thing that surprised me is that it doesn't slow down while
climbing hills and mountains. I find the automatic perfectly anticipates the
load, and keeps the engine right at its best, most efficient RPM range.
I have investigated and discovered that the State of California has
not put any restrictions on the sale or registration of new VW TDI powered
cars. A California dealer recently told me that he thinks VW put the restrictions
on back in August so they could totally remove all new TDI VWs in California
by January 1, 2000. It seems that VW is looking at new regulations that might
prohibit the sale of any diesel cars in California after January 1. He thinks
that VW would have to buy back any remaining stock, and then be forced to
auction them to dealers in other states as "used" vehicles.
Of all this stories I've been told, this sounds the most plausible. . .or
is this just another tall tale?
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