Who knew that a car company could program its cars’ pollution controls to recognize emissions testing equipment and emit fewer pollutants during tests, then go back to emitting greater amounts than legally allowed during normal driving?
Who knew that a car company, upon realizing this was possible, would be devious enough to deliver cars to market with this trick up its sleeves? Volkswagen did exactly that!
As Volkswagen addresses its reputation crisis caused by the diesel pollution scandal, its first concern must be for the victims of the company’s deception. Who are the victims?
VW diesel owners must now submit to a retooling of their cars, which will likely reduce vehicle performance. Their resale/trade-in value has been diminished. Current owners should be compensated.
Local dealerships are likely to have fewer sales as a result of the scandal but their service departments will be extra busy when they begin reprogramming VW diesel vehicles.
Germany and its reputation for engineering prowess are also likely to take a hit. In a perverse way, we could admire them for being clever enough to devise this scam. But if Germans would be so dishonest as to engage in this practice, what other sneaky stuff might they try to pull off? VW is that nation’s biggest company; how this will affect the entire country remains to be seen.
The auto industry as a whole suffers yet another blow to its integrity. Following last week’s settlement of the General Motors ignition switch situation, we have to be extra diligent as car shoppers, lest we become the victims of further corporate malfeasance. (The GM resolution was in regard to criminal charges. Several lawsuits are still pending.)
The environment is a big victim of Volkswagen’s impropriety. Almost as much as damage from actual pollution, VW’s callous disregard for environmentally responsible behavior is a disappointment. EPA fines should be heavy.
Can VW overcome this crisis? Without a doubt they can and they will survive. How well (or poorly) they manage it will be instructive for all who are concerned with reputation management and good business practices.