In the corporate world, history repeats itself too often. An entire industry stubbornly plots to keep secret a hideous corpse, until the smell is so bad that the crime is discovered. It happens all the time, but sometimes the consequences are a tsunami that floods over the whole economy. In 2008, the corpse was subprime mortgages, and now it’s subprime car diesel engines. Let’s see how high the tide rises this time.
For your records:
Everyone was cheating emissions tests in plenty of different ways. VW’s smart cheating software is yet another turn of the screw.
… new scrutiny in the aftermath of the NOx revelations seems likely to make it an open scandal to the world at large. This may be why VW’s competitors, too, are seeing their share prices fall.
In Europe testing regime is so out of date and open to abuse that carmakers do not have to bother with such subtlety.
The companies test their own vehicles under the auspices of independent testing organisations certified by national governments. But these organisations are commercial enterprises that compete for business.
According to its latest annual report, the Vehicle Certification Agency receives 69.91% of its income from car manufacturers, who pay it to certify that their vehicles are meeting emissions and safety standards.
So, pollution is what cars “do” when no one is looking. And nobody was looking.
This is going to have a very real impact on the economy. And of course, on Germany and Europe’s credibility.
Now my question is: Will VW collapse? In Spain we have a saying that goes: Taller Towers have fallen down!
Featured Image: Matt Chase for The New York Times