TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Volkswagen, one of several auto makers that did not sign off on the Obama Admin.’s proposed corporate average fuel economy standards for 2025, still is hoping to negotiate changes, a top executive says.

“We still have a dialogue going on with the administration in terms of how we think the policy needs to be adjusted,” Jonathan Browning, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, says on the sidelines of the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars here.

Volkswagen says the current proposed rules place an unfairly high burden on passenger cars, while allowing special compliance flexibility for heavier light trucks.

While passenger cars would be required to achieve 5% annual improvements, and light trucks 3.5% annual improvements, the largest trucks carry almost no burden for the 2017-2020 timeframe.

Instead, they are granted numerous ways to mathematically meet targets in the outlying years without significant real-world gains, a VW spokesman says.

“The proposal encourages manufacturers and customers to shift toward larger, less-efficient vehicles, defeating the goal of reduced greenhouse-gas emissions,” the spokesman says.

Diesels, which offer up to 30% better fuel efficiency and are installed in up to 80% of some VW models sold in the U.S., also are ignored by the proposed rules. Browning would like to see some changes there.

“Diesels are growing to pretty much twice the scale in terms of (U.S. sales) of electric vehicles and hybrids together. It’s a technology that is available and affordable…and we think it should be part of the landscape going forward,” Browning tells Ward’s.

“Our new Passat diesel built in the U.S. in Chattanooga, TN, achieves 43 mpg (5.5 L/100 km) highway and can travel almost 800 miles (1,287 km) on a single tank of fuel. Yet, there is no consideration in the current proposal for the positive impact clean diesels can have on fuel consumption here in the U.S.,” a VW spokesman tells Ward’s.

In his formal remarks to attendees here, Browning says VW is creating a new customer-experience organization aimed at improving its quality image and consumer interaction at dealerships.

Mark Barnes, 52, current head of sales at VWoA, has been appointed to the newly created position of vice president-Volkswagen Customer Experience.

“We know we need a systemic approach to better manage the entire customer experience with VW,” Browning says.

“Now that we’ve put actions in place to address the customer voice in the product development process, and built a strong quality organization, this is the next step in improving the foundation of our business.”

dwinter@wardsauto.com