The Volkswagen Scam

Next morning in office, back to “normal Delhi life”, my colleagues greeted me with a Faustian smile and the latest news: “the Volkswagen Scam”. Volkswagen had a special software built into the diesel engines of 11 million vehicles to pass the US emission tests. Under normal conditions these emission controllers were switched off for enhanced performance, exceeding then by forty times the emission of nitrogen oxide pollutants permitted by law. My little scam stories from Jaipur faded away in view of this outrageous and shameless fraud.
I don’t know about the reception in the german media, but by the time of this blog (20/10-15) the repercussion has presumably already dwindled. Here are some background facts why we should be seriously concerned:

  • The car industry is by far the most important and largest industry sector in Germany, in terms of revenues (about 400 bn€/yr.) as well as in terms of employees (about 1 million), making up for more than half of Germany’s export surplus and more than 40% of expenditures in german R&D.
  • Volkswagen, with 10 million cars produced and a revenue of 202bn€ in 2014, is the largest car manufacturer globally.
  • Interest links between industry and politics are strong: since years, to the increasing irritation of the public, chancellor Merkel is stalling the European legislation for more restrictive emission standards in private transport “to prevent damage to the high-end segment of german limousines” while greenwashing the sector with a few costly electric vehicles and “the German Energiewende”. We highlighted this already in an open letter to Dirk Niebel – Mr. Niebel expectedly never answered, but rather shifted from development aid to work as lobbyist for arms shortly after.
  • The revealed fraud is a scandal, proving the cynic recklessness of some business over social and environmental norms. I hope that those responsible will be brought to civil justice.