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The tale of emissions, omissions and betrayal

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Thu, Nov 12, 2015

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


The announcement of a $1000 so-called “Good Will Package” that Volkswagen Corporate has made to some 400,000+ North American owners of certain diesel-powered Volkswagens, Audis, and Porsches is egregious on its face, insulting in content, and obfuscating at its heart. I called the facts behind the original admission by Volkswagen a betrayal (see Truth in Engineering). A terrible betrayal of its loyal customers who went out of their way and paid a premium for what they believed was clean diesel technology; and a betrayal of the entire industry that has worked so hard and long to make clean diesel technology acceptable, to greatly advance the process and harness it for good. Not to mention the question of the long-term health of untold numbers of people who were exposed to the illegal emissions from these vehicles. Now, without ever even talking about or showing any positive results for any sort of a computer re-flash that would eliminate the “rogue” software program nefariously installed by three mid-grade engineers somewhere west of Düsseldorf on millions of Volkswagen products world-wide, they offer five hundred bucks in cash and a like amount in dealer service to owners of the afflicted machines the acceptance of which requires traversing a number of hoops, and (if my reading is correct) their signing-on to the promise, that, if they sue (which they are assured that they may), they will only enter arbitration in Sioux Falls, South Dakota! I’m compelled to throw in an expository: “You’ve GOT to be kidding” right here. Insult to injury, piling-on, (German) hubris … What would you call it? THAT’S STRIKE TWO VOLKSWAGEN … - Doug Stokes, 11.10.2015 And then I had second thoughts, even less appreciative of the scene: TRIAGE … I suspect an overwhelming number of affected Volkswagen diesel owners would first prefer taking their cars to the dealership to have it exorcised (so they can regain some sense of self-respect) NOW … FIRST rather than heading over to pick up a $500 … what? “Gift”? … “Apology”? … “Thank you for shopping at VW”? card and a cert for $500 worth of car service or VW geegaws. I hear: “How about using my $500 certificate to fix my damn car…” already echoing off the service area’s walls. Please, Volkswagen … pass out the hush money, hats, and T-shirts (“I survived the VW Diesel Debacle of 2015”) much later, sometime AFTER you’ve you repaired the cars and assuaged at least a few clicks of your customers’ personal embarrassment. That may be hard to understand as you seem to be well beyond any trace of that emotion … Maybe corporations don’t get embarrassed, yours should. If this causes a headache, I recommend reading about how Tylenol handled a pretty damn big crisis and lived to thrive from it. - DS STRIKE THREE… 11.13.15 … LA Times: “VW offers some workers amnesty” -AP What’s a better word for it than “hubris”? Dunderheadedness? Again, today and seemingly without any indication of offering a full, free, and fast fix for the misdeed that’s still affecting the 400,000; Volkswagen has now chosen to cast a line for whistle-blowers among the ranks of their worker-level employees (managers NOT included) who will come clean on the company-wide plot to jigger Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche diesel engines which were effectively and systematically set up to “lie” to emission-testing equipment about the substantial amount of illegal gases that those thousands upon thousands of vehicles were (AND STILL ARE) producing. Horse and cart analogies notwithstanding; Volkswagen has put up yet another subterfuge - - the search for the guilty - - again well in front of what they should have been hard at work on by day two: FIXING THE VEHICLES FIRST and then paying off the harmed, and finding the guilty, sometime AFTER Job 1 is completed. Today is November 13, and the hapless Volkswagen employees have until November 30 to tell all without the company seeking damages or firing them. Of course, they were also reminded that their coming forth on the matter would not protect them from any sort of criminal penalties if they became involved in any of the ongoing probes. Pretty good deal, huh? Think anyone in Wolfsburg or Weissach will take them up on the offer? Yeah … me too. Again, I come back to the betrayal of the everyone in line from the factory workers, to the dealers, to the customers and even on to the people in the Volkswagen ranks who believed they were promoting good (no, make that great) cars.


Many years ago my dear friend and mentor, Harry Kelly, gave me a little reminder that I’ve firmly attached to my office wall everywhere that I’ve worked over the years. It’s supposed to be about at PR campaign. It can be (almost … save the final “phase”) well-applied here. There’s really nothing more to add to this already too long and too toady set of notes that will not even be whiffed at by the people who should take notice. Sorry about that. –Stokes TAILSPIN 11.23.2015 - The tailspin just gets worse in the case of truth and the environment versus Volkswagen. Adding additional engine sizes and configurations to the tainted list only makes the cure much more clear. The company must show proof of an effective fix, and then start supplying the remedy at once and for as long as it takes. It needs, in good faith, to not let another new VW machine of any kind roll of an assembly line anywhere until it begins directly repairing the machines that were knowingly sold in total bad faith. Yeah, I know that the tech behind such a fix will be complicated, but no more so than the original illicit software was to conjure. And I know that, like the banks, Volkswagen may well be “too big to fail”. That thousands upon thousands of innocent employees would be out of work if production stopped, not to mention the worker attrition at distributor and dealership levels. But these cars need to be fixed first, I think that I mentioned the word triage before: the patient is “bleeding” you must fix that before anything else first or everything else is moot. - Doug Stokes STRIKE FOUR? LA Times, Highway 1 section, Friday, December 11, 2015: “New details on VW scandal” … In which almost no “new details” on Volkswagen’s outrageous betrayal of the Clean Diesel movement are revealed, and the obviousness of the company’s stonewalling becomes more evident and more egregious by the day. This time we’re back to ferreting out more of those dastardly “rogue engineers” (I can just see them now all in their black masks, conspiring in their dank, harbor side hideout) who surreptitiously added a sequence of secret (to all in all of VW management but them by the way) smog test defeat code to 400,000+ Volkswagen (and sub-brand) “Clean Diesel” vehicles. Again, far more concerned for car sales than fixing the problem, VW’s top officer, Matthias Mueller tells us that the company has not seen a “massive slump” in sales and that VW feels that there’s no need to change the sales volume projections for the period. Great! And the last line of the Times story is a telling as any: “A fix has not yet been announced for the vehicles in the U.S.” I suppose that I do not have to remind anyone that’s 400,000+ illegal vehicles running still around. It seems to me that, Volkswagen, at its very highest levels, has decided to sit tight and not do a whole hell of a lot of to get this situation fully explained, even close to contained, let alone repaired. Faith lost is hard to regain, this is not people mistaking the gas pedal for the brake, nor is it people overloading a car’s keychain so heavily that the other keys and extraneous stuff becomes a bob weight that can swing and shut off a car’s engine … this is first degree intentional, direct deception. Intolerable. -DS Got something to say? Add your Facebook comment regarding this article here.

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