Weekend Comment of the Day #2: “The VW Scandal: Huge Consequences, Simple Ethics Lessons, Ominous Implications”

GermanFlagVWThe second Comment of the Day, from prolific commenter Michael R, explores how the Volkswagen plot may have been nourished by industry-crushing over-regulation.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “The VW Scandal: Huge Consequences, Simple Ethics Lessons, Ominous Implications”:

This scandal is worse that you present it. When you look at it, our government encourages such conduct. When you look at what happened, it sure looks like our wonderful Democrats hate the United States and the companies and working Americans. In 1998, the government went after US diesel manufacturers for a less-devious defeat device (it seems that it worked only when the engine was under strain and the emission controls worked at least some of the time during normal operation). They were fined and had to pay for environmental remediation to the tune of $1 billion. The software was not as essential to the running of the engines as VW’s, as the companies were able to make the engines compliant with a software fix.

Enter VW. They not only run this scam, but they market the vehicles as ‘clean diesels’ and environmentally friendly. They make the cars this way for over a dozen years. The EPA refuses to raise the emission limits on diesel cars because they say “well if VW can do it, you can too”, shutting US companies out of the market because they wouldn’t cheat. The environmental group that discovered this fraud was trying to study the VW diesels to prove that US car companies could do the same thing if they wanted to. Their premise was that the US companies are not dedicated enough and American engineers are not as smart as German engineers. What they found is that the VW diesels are horribly polluting cars. Eventually , they got the EPA to take notice. The EPA agreed not to fine VW and agreed to keep the whole thing quiet if VW would just fix the cars. Gee, why didn’t CAT and Mack get that deal? Do only foreign companies get such deals? The only reason this comes to light is because VW told them they fixed the cars and they didn’t. Despite this, it appears that VW is not going to be fined. In addition, the cars are still allowed to be on the road. They don’t meet emissions, never met emissions, can’t be made to meet emissions, but they are still allowed on the road. Those models aren’t legal to register in the US, why are the still allowed on the road. In other news, recent testing show that BMW’s fancy diesels, even with urea injection, emit well over the limit as well and the same is probably true of Mercedes’.

Why shouldn’t German companies act this way? There is no economic incentive not to. They know if THEY get caught, they won’t get fined like a US company will. VW just pushed it too far. If they had quietly recalled the cars, the EPA would have helped them cover it up. They couldn’t fix them, of course, because their engines aren’t even capable of meeting emissions and operate under load (unlike the US diesels above that got fined). We still aren’t going to fine VW (they have set aside money to deal with this and they aren’t including a US fine). We aren’t going to fine BMW. We aren’t going to fine Mercedes. Our government cares more about German companies and German jobs than ones in the US.

Another good lesson to remember, VW isn’t just a company, it is largely owned by the government. A government that likes to tout their own environmental excellence while denigrating the US. When the government owns the companies, who is going to protect you?

4 thoughts on “Weekend Comment of the Day #2: “The VW Scandal: Huge Consequences, Simple Ethics Lessons, Ominous Implications”

  1. EPA Logic: “Oops. We’re in the news again for the Gold King Mine disaster. What other news can we put out there to raise our reputation?”

  2. Have you seen the recent results from the Takata airbag problem? We helped Toyota cover up this problem since at least the mid 2000’s. Now we find that it isn’t just old airbags and it isn’t just the driver’s steering wheel airbag. A side impact Takata airbag just blew shrapnel all over the occupants of a 2015 VW Touareg. That’s right, all the airbags made by Takata from at least 2002 until now are defective. It seems that Takata switched from sodium azide and tetrazole to the much cheaper ammonium nitrate. Unfortunately, ammonium nitrate may burn to fast (explode) if it is exposed to heat, humidity, etc (like in a car). This helped them increase their marketshare in airbags.

    So, to recap. We refused to investigate the airbag problem for years because it is a Japanese problem and was first identified in Japanese cars. Japanese companies usually refuse to give information to the NTSB and delay, delay, delay. Unlike an American company, where legal pressure can be directly applied, the NTSB has to rely on their cooperation. While this stalling was going on, Takata was not fixing the problem and was increasing market share. Now, we have a decade of cars with potentially dangerous airbags and the remaining airbag manufactures may not be any better. Most likely, they moved to ammonium nitrate as well to remain price-competitive with Takata. So ignoring the problem made it so much better, didn’t it? Who is going to pay to fix THIS? Takata will go bankrupt well before that happens. They where will we get our airbags? Our cars were not designed to be safe without them. How do you fix this problem? We have to hold foreign companies responsible for their products or disasters like this will continue to happen. If they refuse to be regulated, we need to have the political will to exclude them from our market.

    Let’s see, surplus flack jackets are currently $90. Now required attire in cars.

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