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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 it.

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?

-SteveS


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