Dieselgate : The Gift That Keeps on Giving

You have to give some credit to Volkswagen for getting away for close to 3 years with the largest corporate fraud in the history of the automobile industry by selling over 11 million vehicles, including the iconic Jetta and Beetle models , among other Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen models. Volkswagen, or “people’s car” in the German language, essentially used the people, to destroy the people by using the “people’s car”.

With pressure mounting on Volkswagen to expand the stagnated and greatly reduced sales in America, the biggest automobile market at the time, Ferdinand Piëch, the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, was appointed as the head of Volkswagen. The “revolutionary” TDI-diesel engine was Dr. Piëch’s big-thinking brainchild. Volkswagen sales started to pick-up, with a clean, powerful and fun-to-drive diesel. The future was looking very bright for the once at the brink of insolvency Volkswagen. To indemnify for the health hazards of NOx pollutants emitted in high quantities by diesel engines, a NOx trap had to be set in place, which was expensive and a high-maintenance device, but somehow VW managed to pull through.

The problem came when President Bush, in 2007 and President Obama, in 2009 took America’s first steps towards regulations that would cut gasoline consumption and greenhouse gas emission from motor vehicles. It became critical for Piëch’s aide and future-CEO, Winterkorn to solve the problem of these emissions and to make their vehicles compliant with the same. The rest is history. 

At a Congress hearing, Michael Horn claimed that some engineers had individually taken these steps and added a defeat device to bypass strict American regulations. What one fails to understand is how a couple of engineers can build up a sophisticated network of hardware and software and install them in millions of vehicles to bypass these norms.

Furthermore, after multiple accusations from the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board, VW officials continued to deny knowledge of any such acts and even attempted to conduct an “independent” study by gassing monkeys with toxic fumes, successfully following in the footsteps of their original backer.

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