- Mar 29, 2008
- Wilhelmshaven, Germany
- '17 Ford Mustang GT Fastback
I think the concern is less that they have a defeat software/device installed and more than they may have knowingly used substandard materials with less lifespan than required for things like fuel seals, airbag sensors/detonators (think Takata but instead knowing that the charges were defective prior to install), all to avoid spending the money needed to properly comply - which is the same reason they cheated on emissions.
Thing is, MacGuffin, we've already *had* big companies do similar things in their fields. Often times when a company starts intentionally cheating on safety or real pollution issues just to save a buck, they've also illegally skimped/screwed the consumer elsewhere - in for a penny, in for a pound seems to be the logic there. This isn't something new to the US experience - we learned from our Industrial Revolution 'robber baron' 'princes of industry' and their aftermaths quite well. It's not VW hating; it's simply expecting VW to have fit the long established pattern of corporate/industrial corruption.
With something like, say, a DVD/CD/MP3 player, the hazards are relatively easy to check for and mitigate. Also, the expenditure is small and you're not really relying on it for protection. Buying one fixed after a recall isn't a huge risk. With something as large, costly and complicated as a car, it's a different story. After all, finding out that the DVD player was constructed with other sub par parts that caused it to cease function merely means you have to go get another one. Finding out that your car's airbags were made with charges from (to pick something hopefully so ridiculous that VW wouldn't do it - but who can tell at this point?) surplus German Army hand grenades with a use-by date back in 1964 is neither so easy to find out ahead of time nor without high risk should you discover one day you need your airbags. Do you really want to find out the hard way that VW also lied about, say, the airbag components' composition and lifespan?
Well, the tragedy if VW is not that they needed to resort to cheating but that it was made possible by the management structure, a wrong strategy, political weakness and the authoritarian style with Winterkorn led his company (even high managers didn't dare contradict him and bad news resulted and shouting and carpeting people). In the meantime there have been some reports of what was going on behind the scenes (also what happened at the board meeting last Friday), which explains a bit why the whole mess happened and why it wasn't addressed earlier. I hope that the current editorial of DER SPIEGEL will be available in English next week, then I will paste it here. It's titled "The suicide".
I have a cousin who works at VW as an engineer and the hardest part for him is to accept that a company like his, absolutely obsessed with engineering and technology, had such a huge slip-up. So I don't think they cheated in another way. After all, it has a reason the price of a VW is usually a bit higher than of its direct competitors. Other car makers might have a better record in reliability but it's because they simply went for the simpler solutions. The Toyota Prius, for instance, is from a technical standpoint a very simple solution. For instance the top speed is limited due to certain technical necessities, not because Toyota doesn't believe in speed...
Anyway, I am digressing. As I said: I can understand the disappointment and the mistrust but I can't understand the sometimes hysterical reactions. The issue here was what can be considered a quick and cheap fix, a software delivered by Bosch (who already warned VW in 2007 about using it illegally), and not a construction or design fault. What keeps me amazed a bit is how long it took to find out the manipulations. It took how long? 8 years? 8 years, when every engineer in the business must have been able to tell that something couldn't be physically right there...
Unless of course the cheating happened everywhere else, too, and the others were just lucky and wise not to push the diesel in America so much.