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Volkswagen's Position on Biodiesel

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  • Volkswagen's Position on Biodiesel

    I have written to VW Australia, representing this site (and Sydney Biodiesel) on 2 occasions and I have been given NO RESPONSE. I can only conclude that they consider responding to me as a problem for whatever reasons they have. I am including my questions to them, then I will follow with questions that other users have posed to them and received answers for. Below are my (unanswered) letters to them.

    I'd like to preface this by saying that the letter sent (below) nearly 2 weeks ago has still not been answered. I run a web forum which last month got over 180,000 hits. There were over 3,000 unique visitors on it in January and the numbers are growing rapidly (Note – these numbers have now nearly doubled in the few months since I sent this). There are many people discussing the VW Golf in my forum. I am seeking a response from you, both for myself and on behalf of my members. I note that you have also recently given a response to one of my colleagues regarding biodiesel which indicates that VW Australia need to do a bit of education and catch-up on biodiesel and the Australian standard that exists for it. I would urge you that the best way to proceed from here would be to open a dialogue with us, as you will find people willing to assist your progress in this matter. I will be posting details of major manufacturer’s responses to the Australian Biodiesel Standard very soon, so you still have the opportunity to paint VW in a good light there.

    <<sent 30/1/06>>
    I'd like to get in contact with Volkswagen regarding the use/promotion of biodiesel in Australia. Obviously in Europe, this is quite common, but in Australia, still very new.
    I currently drive a Land Rover on Australian Standard Specification, commercially produced biodiesel. In March I am looking to switch this vehicle to a VW.
    I understand that in Europe, VW is one of the only manufacturers who actually recommend the use of biodiesel and as such, I would be keen to see what you intend to do in Australia.
    As you are no doubt aware, diesel fuelled vehicles will soon make it big here. Although any diesel engine will run on biodiesel, those that can brand themselves as biodiesel friendly will make it even bigger, not just on environmental issues, but economic as well. I would see VW as being one of these, possibly the first in Australia.
    Currently, biodiesel is commercially available at less cost than distillate (petro-diesel) and once the Australian marketplace wakes up to this, there will be a rush to buy diesel passenger vehicles that were once considered only for commercial use.
    I’m sure I’m telling you what you already know here, but I would like to open a dialogue with the appropriate person in VW Australia (possibly a PR Manager etc) regarding biodiesel here.
    I am currently involved with websites for the Sydney Biodiesel Users Group – www.sydneybiodiesel.com, the Australian Biofuels Forum – www.biofuelsforum.com as well as www.brisbanebiodiesel.com and www.melbournebiodiesel.org. As you will see, the biodiesel scene in Australia is beginning to gain some momentum and we will be seeking input from vehicle manufacturers to make available to our users and the public via our sites. These sites have only been running for less than 6 months, but are now scoring thousands of new visitors every month and membership is rapidly growing.
    Because I am looking to use a VW in the coming months, I thought I might give VW the opportunity to share in the process, as it may well aid both of our causes.
    I’d appreciate it if you could contact me at your earliest convenience, (xxx xxx xxx) or (email address) to discuss.


    Robert Fyvie
    Sydney Biodiesel
    Site Admin.

  • #2
    Re: Volkswagen's Position on Biodiesel

    Following are the results of another forum member's contact with Volkswagen Australia. I must of course preface this with:

    This is cut & pasted from some correspondence that one of our members had with VW Australia and their reply regarding their position on biodiesel. Please note that this response does not necessarily indicate VW Australia's official viewpoint at the moment, but it did at the time it happened. I would suggest that you make your own enquiries and I would welcome VW Australia's responses in here. (The names have been changed to protect the innocent).

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Forum Member
    Sent: 04 February, 2006 01.59
    To: VW autoassist
    Subject: RE: Volkswagen Contact Us Query

    Wow, I am impressed that you were able to respond so quickly. I would like
    to take you up on your offer, and I will gratefully accept a Volkswagen
    Diesel to test with Biodiesel. I say this with the knowledge that there is
    an Australian Specification for Biodiesel. In fact, commercial producers of
    Biodiesel cannot take advantage of the Government Tax Rebate unless they can prove their fuel conforms to the standard. Both of the major producers of Biodiesel supply laboratory certification with each batch produced. I am
    attaching the Australian Standard for your benefit. Furthermore, the
    quality testing is more stringent than most testing at petrodiesel
    refineries. Early this week Chrysler announced they would include B20 in
    their OEM umbrella. I will attach the press release. I suggest that you
    bone-up on Biodiesel progress in the last two years for it appears you are
    working from old information.

    Within the last 12 days a Biodiesel retail outlet opened in Marrickville.
    It offers B20, B50, and B100 (for pre-qualified fleets). It sold 6,000
    liters in the first 2 days. (OK - I Exaggerate)

    You say, "vehicles sold here in Australia have not been built to do so". So
    are you saying the engines in Australian VW's are not built as well as the
    EU models? This is disappointing. I know that B20 is available in the
    retail market in Germany and in the US, so I am disappointed that Australian
    vehicles are not able to perform under similar conditions.

    As for "heaters", you are referring to Straight Vegetable Oil (SVO)
    vehicles, and although you are correct for SVO vehicles, there is as much
    difference between SVO and Biodiesel as there is between VW and Holden.
    This kind of generalization is not good for Biodiesel nor VW. Please take
    the time to research the product before you advise people on its use.
    Recently, the Hon. Morris Iemma mandated that ALL STATE VEHICLES must use Biofuel where it is available. If you continue on your current strategy,
    you will be unable to tender on Government vehicle contracts.

    Biodiesel is the only product offering immediate and significant reductions
    in greenhouse emissions in a renewable, non-toxic, and domestic fuel source.
    Diesel vehicles DO NOT REQUIRE ANY MODIFICATION. I am sorry you are so
    unfamiliar with the new technology; I actually expected more advanced thinking from VW. As you stated, "and do believe that in the future this kind of fuel will become more popular ", well the future is here and VW is
    in the past with GM. There were over 50,000,000 liters of Biodiesel sold in
    Australia in 2005, and it is projected there will be 300,000,000 liters sold
    in 2006. The buyers of that fuel will be putting it in some kind of
    vehicle. Unfortunately for you, it will be in Peugeots and Citroens.

    Please advise VW international that VW Australia would like to catch up with
    the rest of the world.

    Best regards,
    Forum Member

    -----Original Message-----
    From: VW autoassist [mailto:vw.autoassist@internationalsos.com]
    Sent: 03 February, 2006 20.09
    To: 'Forum Member'
    Subject: RE: Volkswagen Contact Us Query

    Dear Forum Member,

    Re: Bio Diesel fuels with Volkswagen,

    Thank you for taking the time to contact us here at Volkswagen Australia,
    via our website, we appreciate it. It is fantastic to hear that you will soon be the lucky owner of a new Volkswagen Diesel vehicle.

    I understand that you are intending to or are interested in using Bio Diesel
    with your new Volkswagen. I do commend you on your enquiry and do believe that in the future this kind of fuel will become more popular and thus a means of saving our oil reserves and keeping costs down.

    I can advise you that whilst in Europe some of the latest range of Volkswagen Diesel engines are able to run on bio diesel, the vehicles sold here in Australia have not been built to do so. As there is is no current legislation regarding controls to the quality or Cetane ratings of this fuel Volkswagen is unable to recommend or condone its use and therefore the
    vehicles have not been built with the modifications to use Bio Fuel.

    For use with Bio Diesel fuels the vehicles ideally need to be fitted with fuel heating devices and filters to enable them to run on Bio fuels. Therefore at time of ordering the intention to use Bio Fuel is indicated and the vehicles are manufactured with these additions as required when the order is placed.

    Use of these fuels which may not be to an acceptable quality level therefore
    may cause damage to your vehicles fuel system or engine and as such may not be covered under warranty. If the situation changes and the quality of these fuels is controlled then certainly Volkswagen Australia would undergo long term testing and then review its policy.

    I trust this has answered your questions and if you require any additional information relating to this enquiry please feel free to contact me on 02 9695 6000 during business hours.

    Thank you once again for choosing Volkswagen as your next vehicle.

    Kind Regards

    Volkswagen Auto Assist

    Also see this post which was put up by another forum user.
    Last edited by Robert; 20 June 2006, 10:20 AM.
    Site Admin.


    • #3
      Re: Volkswagen's Position on Biodiesel

      Officially, VW is a massive supporter of Biodiesel, and have gone way out on a limb to reccomend a B5. Exciting eh? At least the official press release (attached PDF) is knowledgable, in opposition to VW Australia's ignorant relplies. ML
      Morris Lyda
      The Biodiesel Station


      • #4
        Re: Volkswagen's Position on Biodiesel

        Also, this is an interesting post on the difference of VW in other parts of the world to that of Australia.

        Another interesting thread is here, where I have put links to loads of other VW related threads on this forum. Hopefully VW Australia will eventually change their silly stance on biodiesel here.

        At least we can educate ourselves about it.
        Site Admin.


        • #5
          Re: Volkswagen's Position on Biodiesel

          Yeah, it's frustrating, particularly when VW import the most comprehensive range of diesel cars into Australia. For example, in 2007, they are dropping the V8 petrol engine option from the Touareg and replacing it with the V6TDI. How many other cars can you buy in Oz with a choice of 3 diesel engines?

          VW's support for B5 in the USA came with lost of fanfare, but is really an excuse to BAN the use of anything with a higher blend. There is a case I know of of warranty being refused on a turbo blow-up damaging an engine after 1 tank of commercial B30 (following 2 tanks of B5). See "Freds TDI forum" http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=139673 if you're game (the thread is 29 pages long)

          It comes back to fear and "arse-covering", with Bosch not warranting their fuel injection systems to VW etc "outside the square".


          VW Touareg R5 TDI


          • #6
            Re: Volkswagen's Position on Biodiesel

            Off topic slightly but I took the view that if the IP on my GM rodeo(izuzu) was going to die for what ever reason be it B100 or doggy Dinodiesel they would try everything could to refuse the claim.

            I spoke with several people who had this happen and on about 80% of case's if you could not 100% prove were the fuel came from so that action could be taken againts the retailer/dist/wholesaler/manurfact they would say that it was doggy fuel and not pay out for the IP.

            Fuel in AUS at least has always been a lot on the doggy side for YEAR when it comes to diesels so I thought stuff it it is the same engine and IP in other parts of the world using B100 without a problem so here should be no different.

            I know have 13 months and 51000km on it without a hitch most of which has been some blend of BD all the time upto the last 2-3 weeks.


            • #7
              Re: Volkswagen's Position on Biodiesel

              They can't prove you where running it on biodiesel anyway they don't even know what the stuff is!!!!!!!!


              • #8
                Re: Volkswagen's Position on Biodiesel

                This is a bit late to reply to this but.....
                A friend of mine in WA has a new (about two years ago) VW that specifically states the warranty will be void if it is run on Bio.
                I have recently found out that the reason for this is the emission control system which basically squirts fuel into the cylinder just before the inlet valve closes. It is then vapourised and in theory does not burn in the cylinder but is ejected into the exhaust where is burns and clears carbon ETC.
                Problem is that some of the fuel finds it's way past the rings and into the sump to dilute the lube oil.
                Apparently if it is petro diesel this is OK but not Bio.
                Other newer makes with emission control, squirt the fuel directly into the exhaust and this of course causes no problems.
                Personally I am not keen on having my lube oil diluted with anything
                CU Bob


                • #9
                  Re: Volkswagen's Position on Biodiesel

                  Thats why I like VW vehicles. Biodiesel will help us all. Also Biodiesel are usable now since we have oil crisis. Just my 2 cents.

                  Must Read Blog: Autopartswarehouse.com


                  • #10
                    Re: Volkswagen's Position on Biodiesel

                    VW Polo manual specifically permits EN590 compliant biodiesel blends.

                    Comparison of EN590 with Australian diesel standards shows they have almost identical specifications except for Australia:
                    * using ASTM testing methods rather than EN/ISO methods
                    * having marginally higher flash point and density (presumably due to warmer climate)
                    * permitting more carbon residue at 0.3% vs 0.2%
                    * permitting less water/solids at total 0.05% vol vs max 200mg/kg water in EN590
                    * fatty acid ester content unspecified in Australia (apparently this comes from biodiesel) at 5%

                    Technically, Australian diesel legislation permits more than 5% biodiesel provided the total fuel still meets the diesel specifications! Legally, VW would probably have to permit this if the fuel was not labelled biodiesel. B5 biodiesel in Australia would probably meet or exceed EN590.

                    One would have to be prepared to contemplate legal action and independent fuel testing if one had a refused warranty claim on a diesel engine after using biodiesel.


                    • #11
                      Re: Volkswagen's Position on Biodiesel

                      Hi Blueytoo,
                      You have identified the very reason the Department of Environment is dead-set on changing the Australian Diesel Standard to mirror EN590. EN590 restricts diesel to a max of 5% FAME (Biodiesel), and therefore supplants VW's position of using a B5.

                      We argued this several months ago with the DEH, and lost, the diesel standard will be revised probably in January 09.

                      You will not be able to buy b20 on the reatil market, and it is unlikely that all of the current Biodiesel distributors will remain in business.

                      The automotive and petroleum industries dictate government policy, and whatever is in their best interests will become the law.

                      However, Government must support the majors, any action to minimise Climate Change in Australia will require the full support of the industry; otherwise it will fail.

                      Since there is no chance the majors will buy into Biodiesel except to Green-Wash their Rapid-Turnover & Maxi-Profit Strategies, starting in 2009, the consumer's ability to impact emissions will be reduced to taking advantage of whatever the Government and Industry have agreed to offer the consumer.

                      Last edited by morris; 13 October 2008, 11:47 AM. Reason: spelling error
                      Morris Lyda
                      The Biodiesel Station


                      • #12
                        Re: Volkswagen's Position on Biodiesel

                        Originally posted by morris View Post
                        Hi Blueytoo,
                        You have identified the very reason the Department of Environment is dead-set on changing the Australian Diesel Standard to mirror EN590. EN590 restricts diesel to a max of 5% FAME (Biodiesel), and therefore supplants VW's position of using a B5.

                        We argued this several months ago with the DEH, and lost, the diesel standard will be revised probably in January 09.

                        You will not be able to buy b20 on the reatil market, and it is unlikely that all of the current Biodiesel distributors will remain in business.
                        Now I'm really confused...

                        Permitting biodiesel blends to B5 or greater is permitted under the Australian diesel legislated standard, provided the resulting fuel conforms to the standard. VW here officially does not permit *any* biodiesel, but B5 should be acceptable with full warranty if one is prepared to *prove* the B5 is compliant with EN590 which would require independent testing to EN/ISO rather than ASTM standards.

                        I understood there is a separate biodiesel standard here and in europe to assure quality of commercial biodiesel. No vehicle manufacturer will permit that until they have done enough testing to be sure that it will not cause them any problems/liability/harm to reputation. That does not stop anyone using it at their own risk.

                        BTW, national standards policy has been for a long time been to endorse ISO standards as much as possible, so changing the ASTM standard tests to EN/ISO standard tests would be a useful first step to international standards conformance with minimal impact.

                        Does anybody know what's happening with the *biodiesel* standard???
                        Biodiesel fuel quality standard


                        • #13
                          Re: Volkswagen's Position on Biodiesel

                          Hi Blueytoo
                          The issue is the Diesel Standard, not the Biodiesel Standard -
                          1) VW must produce vehicles that can use a fuel that complies to the Australian Diesel Standard.
                          2) Everyone accepts that you can blend 5% Biodiesel (or just about anything else) into diesel & still meet the spec. So VW states they will support a B5.
                          3) However, we discover that we can blend a B20-30 that still complies - what will the auto makers say about that - they have to stand behind a fuel that meets the standard - Right?
                          4) Wrong, they have pushed for the Diesel Standard to be changed to eliminate any blend higher than 5% FAME, and thereby insure that thrie position on B5 is protected.
                          Morris Lyda
                          The Biodiesel Station