Volkswagen is one of the most respected car manufacturers in the world, and it’s only behind Toyota in worldwide sales. Unfortunately, it’s all but tarnished its reputation recently with an immense scandal related to its 2009-2015 TDI Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, Passat, and Beetle in the US.
As it turns out, these vehicles emit far more harmful substances into the air than the legal limit allows.
How Was Volkwagen Caught?
Volkswagen tried to game the system by equipping the above-mentioned cars with a defeat device, which uses specific code in the vehicle’s computers to emit less pollution when it senses a detection taking place. During regular driving, however, the car goes back to its regular high level of pollution emission.
The issue came to light due to third-party tests by the International Council on Clean Transport (ICCT). The irony of the situation is that the tests weren’t intended to pin anything on VW. The ICCT was actually trying to prove that VW’s new generation of diesel engines were cleaner than standard gasoline. However, they ended up unearthing the exact opposite.
When the test team took the vehicles out on the road, the pollution measures were astonishing. As it turns out, the Jetta emits up to 35 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxides. The Passat releases up to 20 times the legal limit. Further testing exposed the contaminating nature of the Golf and Beetle.
The reason this wasn’t discovered during EPA testing was because the defeat device could tell when the car was actually on the road and when it was only on a dynamometer “rolling road.” The cars give favorable emission when on the rolling road simulator, but function normally—without illegal amounts of pollutants—when out in the real world.
Consequences for VW
Things aren’t looking good for VW. Naturally, consumers are fuming at having been deceived into buying a car that can’t truly pass local emissions tests.
As would be expected following such a major scandal, the CEO of VW Group, Martin Winterkorn, resigned from his position and was replaced with Porsche CEO Matthias Muller.
Just hours after the news about the scandal broke out, a US law firm filed a class action lawsuit against VW. So far, over 35 suits have been filed. Volkswagen stock dropped more than 20 percent.
How’s VW Going to Fix the Situation?
Rather than issue a recall, VW is working on a remedy to fix the affected vehicles. The company is striving to meet a solution deadline of October 7 imposed by German authorities.
What Does This Mean for the AutoMarket?
Auto regulators are likely to enact stricter regulations as people want to prevent this kind of deceit from taking place again. These measures may expose further unknown issues in the auto industry that will take a toll on other manufacturers. People are also bound to call for greater transparency regarding safety and emission testing.
The sudden blow VW has dealt to itself is probable to open up the door of opportunity to its competitors. Of course, Volkswagen has no one to blame but itself.