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Aftershock fears for the symbol 'Made in Germany', following VW' scandal

Thursday, September 24th 2015 - 08:49 UTC
Full article 12 comments
One German newspaper has called it the “most expensive act of stupidity in the history of the car industry”. One German newspaper has called it the “most expensive act of stupidity in the history of the car industry”.
Stupid because manipulating pollution data to boost sales can only be seen as a slap in the face to customers who paid a premium for a 'greener' car. Stupid because manipulating pollution data to boost sales can only be seen as a slap in the face to customers who paid a premium for a 'greener' car.
Expensive because €14bn was wiped off VW's value within hours of the stock market opening on Monday morning, shares plummeting more than 30% Expensive because €14bn was wiped off VW's value within hours of the stock market opening on Monday morning, shares plummeting more than 30%
VW could face €18bn of fines from US authorities and such damage to its brand that future sales are bound to be hit hard. VW could face €18bn of fines from US authorities and such damage to its brand that future sales are bound to be hit hard.

Cars and the environment are two things that Germany cares so deeply about that they form part of the national character. So Germans are shocked to discover that for years the country's mightiest car manufacturer Volkswagen has been rigging environmental tests for diesel emissions in the US.

 It's as if the British suddenly found out that the Queen had a hand in fixing the horse races at Ascot. One German newspaper has called it the “most expensive act of stupidity in the history of the car industry”.

Stupid because manipulating pollution data to boost sales can only be seen as a slap in the face to customers who paid a premium for what they thought was a greener car.

And expensive because €14bn was wiped off VW's value within hours of the stock market opening on Monday morning. Since the company owned up, its shares have plummeted more than 30% in two days. Added to that, the company could face €18bn of fines from US authorities and such damage to its brand that future sales are bound to be hit hard.

It seems particularly egregious that VW is guilty of faking its green credentials, given that the company has been vaunting itself as environmentally conscious, and marketing its cars as “clean diesel”. Powerful and better for the environment at the same time, was the message.

But drivers of almost half a million cars in the US have now suddenly found that they are driving round vehicles which are a lot worse for the environment than they thought. The rigged tests masked the fact that these cars emit up to 40 times the legal limit of pollutants.

And now VW has said that as many as 11 million cars worldwide could be affected. The worry is that the scandal could have even wider ramifications.

In Germany a car is more than just a metal box on four wheels - as anyone who has been to Wolfsburg, the hometown of VW, knows. In fact, with almost half the population working for the firm, the town is VW, with massive factories ornate as castles, and huge VW flags and signs wherever you look.

That's because Germany is rightly proud of its cars - symbols of reliability, technical expertise and top engineering. Symbols too of economic strength. Thanks to VW, Wolfsburg has the highest per capita salary in Germany.

And in the country as a whole, cars are among Germany's most important exports. According to one estimate, one in seven of all German jobs are in some way connected to the car industry.

But “Made in Germany” is supposed to be a quality trusted brand worth paying money for. If that image becomes one of manipulation and deceit instead, then it's only a matter of time before the impact is felt on the German economy.

The fear is that other German industries could also be contaminated by the scandal. A lot of Germany's present economic success is based on engineering expertise, specialized technology and expensive heavy machinery sold to fire up China's factories. Customers are prepared to pay over the odds for quality they trust.

Categories: Economy, Politics, International.

Top Comments

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  • Great_coral_aTrolL

    Any Honest EUians anywhere in that forsaken continent?

    Sep 24th, 2015 - 02:58 pm 0
  • ChrisR

    The mistake was to cover up the nonsense that is the California EPA requirements, they are ridiculous.

    VW should have demonstrated that a state of the art diesel could not get down to these levels and still perform as the customer demanded. The problem does not rest with the car but with the stupidity of the demands.

    Any manufacturer “passing” these levels should be made to carry out the same test that the so called 'experts' did and see how that goes. It will fail by the same or greater margins

    Does anybody really think that a diesel engine running at 3,000 rev/min on NO LOAD is the way to test them?

    The fuel injection system will have minimised the actual fuel flow to restrict the engine to 3,ooo rev/min. In that it will have functioned as intended but what it cannot do is shove the same amount of fuel into the engine that the car would use on the road at 3,000 rev/min because it would over-speed and probably cause irreparable damage.

    The two 'experts' only found this out when the actually drove the car with analytical equipment running. It shocked them!

    Ha, ha, ha.

    Sep 24th, 2015 - 08:21 pm 0
  • ilsen

    Define 'forsaken'.

    C'mon, surely that is not outside of your intellectual ability?

    Sep 25th, 2015 - 12:15 am 0
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