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16.05.2017 09:53 Age: 1 year
Category: News

Diesel Gate: “Honesty is the best policy” ( B. Franklin)

In a book to be published in May “Faster, Higher, Farther: The Volkswagen Scandal”, Jack Ewing reveals new details of the Diesel Gate conspiracy covering up the fact that its cars were designed to deceive pollution regulators. 

It all started with the publication of the results of a test realized in 2014 by graduate students and professors of West Virginia University. In their report, they concluded that the VW Jetta tested by the team had emitted 15 to 35 times the permitted amounts of nitrogen oxides during road tests. Mr. Gootweis who lead the study informed VW of these results and warned that “it can be assumed that the authorities will then investigate the VW systems to determine whether Volkswagen implemented a test detection system in the engine control unit software (so-called defeat device)”. VW denied the allegation and lost the opportunity to be honest.  

CARB (California Air Resources Board) decided to investigate but could not find the answers to its questions. In response, VW decided to recall all cars put into circulation from 2009 onwards to update the engine software assuring regulators and consumers that it would address the issue of excess emissions. Unsurprisingly, the upgrade did not remove the illegal software and did not bring the emissions down to the legal limits. CARB’s tests showed the upgrade did not solve the problem of excess pollution. 

In July 2015 VW asked a law firm to look into possible potential penalties. The law firm referred to previous cases finding that the largest fine given for emissions violations was $100 million, with the difference that in  that case, the car maker had acknowledged the fraud immediately and had cooperated with regulators. 

In August 2015, CARB started pushing VW to explain why its diesel passenger cars polluted so much more in ordinary driving circumstances than they did in California’s testing labs. VW provided new technical information but the experts concluded that this information was not relevant, thereby forcing  VW to admit that the diesel cars it had sold in the EU since late 2008  contained software designed to camouflage emissions that vastly exceeded legal limits. 

The investigation by Jack Ewing shows that VW tried to cover-up the fraud from the day the first suspicions arose until they finally ran out of excuses and acknowledged that the cars were equipped with software that was used to cheat on emissions tests … 

VW’s behavior could be summarized in one sentence: “It should first be decided whether we are honest,,” wrote Mr. Schmidt (a high-ranking engineer) to a colleague. 

In total, VW will pay about $24 billion to buy back cars, fix them and compensate owners in the US and Canada. As mentioned above, in previous cases, carmakers were fined around $100 million: “Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure” (James Altucher). The situation for VW consumers and investors in Europe is a different story altogether… Read more here. 

Read the New York Times article here 


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